The site of this residence grows from the black volcanic stone that litters the beaches outside of Auckland. The site also has many pohutukawa trees growing on it, and since the owner and design team wanted to preserve this iconic Kiwi Christmas Tree they had to design the residence around the tree and its roots. Therefore, the house grows and changes as it rises from the ground level of the site and reaches out towards the ocean.
As you enter the ground floor level, a series of orthogonal spaces follow the site as it slopes down to the oceanfront. These spaces are more organized, when compared to the free flowing spaces of the upper level as it interacts with the limbs of the pohutukawa tree. An extensive rooftop terrace projects itself through the tree in another effort to invite the environment to influence the design of the residence. Strategically placed columns help to hold the floating upper levels, while a suspended foundation provides support for the lower floor. The most interesting approach to the construction of this house is that an irrigation system was constructed under the slab of the house in order to water the roots of the trees as if the residence never existed.
This cedar board-clad beach bungalow was designed to be well ventilated, to thermally protect from the harsh solar gain, and to be environmentally sensitive of the existing landscape. Bossley Architect’s Thorne Bay House won the Registered Master Builders Auckland Region Gold Medal in 2009, and received the New Zealand Wood Timber Residential Architectural Excellence award in the same year.