New Zealand's 'Home of the Year' award is the much-anticipated annual exposé of some of the country's best new residential architecture. This year's winner is a small rural house on the Coromandel Peninsula designed by Herbst Architects.
The K Valley House provides a rustic retreat for a couple in the film industry, who reside there when they are not away on assignment. On their small farm, which runs down a sunny southern flank of the Kauaeranga River valley, they can live off the land, running sheep and growing their own vegetables.
The brief called for a simple dwelling with two bedrooms, wood storage, a sheltered place for farm dogs and the character of a rural building. With plans for sourcing second-hand and recycled materials – which comprises 60 per cent of the structure – they talked to the architects about a building that would engage with the site in both a filmic and practical way.
The resulting building is a striking combination of modernist glass pavilion and windowless, rusting corrugated iron shed. The glass wraps three sides of the ground floor, dramatising the steep valley vista and creating a protected box seat for the wild electrical storms that can whip through the landscape. Iron wraps the upper floor, protecting a dark, loft-like space up in the rafters, containing two bedrooms and a bathroom with slot views up and down the valley.
The building houses a wonderful blend of domestic comforts – including large sliding doors off the veranda-like kitchen and dining space, fireplaces and a sunken lounge. But it is also robust, bold and singular in its form, with a quiet presence in a landscape typified by lone buildings. Sophisticated planning and details are matched by its aged and weathered finishes, making it a house fit for its purpose and reflecting the spirit of its place.