A Wedge-Shaped Home Opens Up to the New Zealand Bush

A Wedge-Shaped Home Opens Up to the New Zealand Bush

By Lucy Wang
On the Tutukaka coastline, a couple carves out a slice of paradise with a wooden home inspired by traditional baches.

After living on the high seas for years, Tristan Jongejans and Sarah Farrelly—who met while working on the super-yacht Amaryllis—developed a knack for small-space living and a love for the outdoors. So, when the couple decided to create their first home together on the Tutukaka coast where they had both grown up, they prioritized a close connection with nature over the building’s size.

For privacy amidst the bustling marina, the Wedgie turns its back to the south and embraces views of the bush toward the north.

Tristan reached out to his high school friend, Tim Gittos of Spacecraft Architects, to design a nature-infused home where they could return when they weren’t working on the open seas.

"The primary goal was to make a private, peaceful home that connected to the surrounding native bush," says Gittos. "The dwelling was conceived as a crash pad for when they are back and waiting to reconnect with the locality—it was important that it felt quintessentially New Zealand in design."

A view of the north side of the house, where the roof pitches up and walls of glass frame private views of the native bush.

To that end, the time-honored Kiwi bach became a major inspiration for the project. Taking cues from the bach vernacular defined by modest interiors and an emphasis on the outdoors, Gittos crafted a simple, agricultural shed–like building with a mono-pitched roof.

The roof is built of Coloursteel MAXX Trapezoidal iron, and it allows for easy rainwater harvesting.

The home is clad in slats of sustainably sourced and locally grown untreated Lawson cypress.

"We wanted to create a strong, simple form that was economical to construct," explains Gittos, who playfully dubbed the house Wedgie after its distinctive wedge shape. "It didn't need to be big, but it would need to shelter space for working on boats, cars, and woodworking, and also have outdoor areas protected from the rain and the harsh summer sun."

The home takes cues from the rural surroundings and local buildings. "We drew upon the rural vernacular of sheds and open-sided barns, along with the philosophy of baches: a close relationship to outdoors, large deck areas, and diminutive scaled interiors," says Gittos.

The property was previously used as a dumping ground for building waste, and the poor soil conditions necessitated drilling timber support poles nearly 10 feet into the ground to support the structure. The exterior is clad in simple, durable, low-maintenance materials including untreated Lawson cypress slats and Coloursteel MAXX Trapezoidal iron.

The slatted screens along the western elevation moderate the afternoon sun in the winter while allowing cool breezes to flow through.

Though Wedgie only measures 650 square feet, the compact dwelling feels much larger than its footprint thanks to large openings and the emphasis on indoor/outdoor living.

Folding doors completely open the interior to the outdoors. Heart macrocarpa flooring finished with blonded wax transitions to a heart red beech deck built from sustainably sourced local timber.

Large windows pull views of the bush indoors.

The ground floor includes a carport and indoor workshop on the south end, along with an open-plan living/cooking/dining area and an outdoor veranda on the north side. The upper floor holds the master bedroom, a smaller secondary bedroom, a shared bathroom, and a covered veranda.

Pinus radiata tree posts are left exposed throughout the home.

Full-height glazing in the bathroom gives the impression of showering in the bush.

Gittos designed the home to follow passive design principles. The roof overhang on the north side extends to mitigate unwanted solar gain in the summer, while allowing winter sun to penetrate the interior.

Operable screens on the northern end can be opened in winter to bring sun into the home.

The couple also immersed themselves in the construction process. Tristan, who is an electrical engineer, installed the wiring and sensor systems. The architects and the couple are also currently working on a small extension to the home.

"I love the relationship of the upper bedroom to the northern view into the bush," says Gittos. "You can open this room right up, and it feels like you are sleeping in the tree canopy."

The view from the upper verandah. Tristan rigged up lights throughout the bush to highlight specimen trees at night.

Wedgie ground floor plan

Wedgie first floor plan

Wedgie elevations

Wedgie axonometric drawing

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