Set into a steep hillside in Christchurch, the Scarborough Home makes the most of its challenging location by embracing site-specific design. The modern family home is the work of New Zealand architectural practice Borrmeister Architects, which capitalized on the property’s stellar ocean views with a pavilion-like design. Modestly sized at 250 square meters, the breezy, passive solar dwelling also boasts environmentally friendly features including solar panels, rainwater retention tanks and a sculptural roof designed to follow the arcing path of the sun.

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Building on an extremely steep hillside required the architects to implement a strict 1.2-meter grid that informed the massing of the three-story Scarborough Home. On the basement level, stone walls anchor the home to the ground and appear like a natural extension of the rock face. In comparison, the upper two levels take on a more pavilion-like feel with massive walls of high-performance glass sheathed behind cedar sliding screens to mitigate unwanted solar gain. A lightweight, sail-inspired roof tops the building and is supported by two tree-like timber and steel structures.

The open-plan living areas — including the kitchen, dining area and lounge — as well as a study and bathroom are placed on the top-most level. Three bedrooms, bathrooms, a sauna and the laundry room are located on the floor below. Outdoor living is emphasized with large connecting decks, a swimming pool, an outdoor shower and a vegetable garden.

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“The brief was for a relaxed, playful home open to the sun, capturing the views to the beach and to the uphill park, whilst also providing shelter from the prevailing winds and incorporating easy driveway access and parking,” the firm explained. To meet the client’s wishes for an environmentally conscious home, the architects used locally sourced, low-maintenance, natural materials for construction. In addition to solar roof tiles and a rainwater harvesting system, the Scarborough Home includes automatic overhead louvers and an ultra-low emission log burner.

+ Borrmeister Architects

Images by Sarah Rowlands