There is a long tradition of subtle, timbery bush cabins in the Waitakere Ranges, west of west of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, but few are as ethereal as this one, which featured in Here 16 and was one of 12 shortlisted homes in last year's Here Awards.
Designer Paul Davidson, who designed and built the house for his own family, trained as an industrial designer before switching to architecture, and it shows. After moving north from Ōtepoti Dunedin to retrain, Davidson and wife Julia bought a two-hectare piece of land at Anawhata, and proceeded to design and build a house on it: the place was designed while he studied and finished while he worked for Herbst Architects, before setting up his own studio.
The house is long and thin, one room deep, with a double-height living space at the western end and bedrooms stacked at the other. In between, there’s a block containing bathroom and stairs. There's a sunny deck on the north side, and a shower looking into the bush on the south. You enter into the middle of the plan, which means no wasted space – or, more likely, if the big sliding door is open, you just wander into the living space.
Along with such a rational plan, Davidson worked hard to express the structure and materials of the place. There’s a frame of macrocarpa and birch plywood lining, both on display and beautifully detailed. Outside, cedar cladding is stained black to blend with the bush, while the corrugate roof has a galvanised underside and a black topside.
It could have all been so rational, so constrained. That’s avoided by a sense of warmth and craft, along with generous touches. Davidson sacrificed floor area on the second level for a generous – and dramatic – double-height space over the living room, matched with a full wall of glass looking out into the bush. The bedroom features a wall of polycarbonate that screens the room from the driveway but also creates a softly filtered light – the effect isJapanese, subtle. Extensive cabinetry features throughout, including wardrobes tucked behind the main bed and a custom plywood kitchen.
Although it is now connected to mains power, the house was originally designed to be off-grid, so it features an array of photovoltaic panels and a wetback wood-burner, along with plentiful water storage.
A very special house, for sale now by negotiation.
82 Anawhata Road
Angela Smith & Lucy Pragert