With a compact and functional design, this rural retreat located in Glen Murray, New Zealand, serves as a weekend escape for a young family from Auckland. The owners wanted a welcoming place to escape the city, a bright and cheerful home for them and their friends. To seamlessly integrate the house into the rural landscape, the team responsible with the project, RTA Studio together with Richard Naish, envisioned a farmhouse-like exterior, maintaining a rural kind of feel. With an angular-shaped roof and large windows, this modern dwelling (entitled suggestively “the Farmhouse”), invites the nature and the light inside.
The bright and uplifting home is composed of three different living areas. “Three open ended pitched roofed pavilions were arranged to accommodate the three distinct functions of the house: living, family sleeping and guest sleeping with flat roofed service pods linking them together. This arrangement serves to capture views, both intimate and vast as well as provide a variety of sheltered outdoor living spaces, either private or communal.” The interior feels very airy. A certain relaxed ambience dominates the living room.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests