“We need somewhere to park the ute.” That was the brief that architect Claire Natusch of Common Space received from her parents. The couple, who live and work on this Bay of Plenty kiwifruit orchard and dairy farm, also wanted a garden shed. “It was as simple as that,” says Natusch. But having grown up on this rural property (as her father did before her), the architect recognised the project as an opportunity to address some other long-standing annoyances.
The design couldn’t be too precious: it needed to fit the agrarian vernacular and work on a practical level. Looking to the surroundings for material inspiration, they settled on timber, concrete and corrugate; raw and robust choices that also sat nicely within budget. When it came to the layout, however, the plan strayed from the norm. Instead of integrating the shed into the carport as many would, Natusch created two unique structures and connected them via a timber-screened concrete path.
This separation serves one of the architect’s self-imposed requirements — the need to create a better division between the home and nearby farm office. With no clear signage or barrier, visiting farm workers would often get confused and wander around the back of the house. “I came up with the idea of linking these elements together into a structure that delineated the space,” Natusch explains. The connecting timber screen that now runs between the carport and shed forms a soft barrier to the home, subtly indicating that a private space lies beyond. It seems to have done the trick: no wayward visitors have been spotted since.
The carport is a rough timber frame topped with a sloping corrugate shed roof. There’s no gutter, partly because it sits on free-draining soils and partly because it lies under an enormous ginkgo tree that would have constantly filled it with leaves. The family washing line hangs alongside the carport, having been relocated from a front paddock where it had sat as an unintended focal point for far too long.
From the carport, you follow a concrete path to the garden shed. Here, pavers turn into concrete blocks that form an edge to the garden before morphing into the base of the building. Aesthetically, this concrete continuation softens the division between the structure and its surroundings, while practically, it protects the shed from wear and tear. “I wanted the base to be really sturdy,” says Natusch. “You have to be able to ram it with a lawnmower or hose it down without worrying.”
Kiwi ingenuity finds its rightful place inside the shed. Shutters on the western wall are opened by pulling the “pointy bit” of a V-shaped brace and resting it onto a windowsill woodblock. The barn doors allow more light and air through, and a soft glow filters down between the rafters. “The light’s beautiful,” says Natusch. “But we did have to stick some chicken wire between the rafters to stop the birds nesting.” On the external wall, a repurposed copper tub becomes a garden sink. Found “somewhere on the property”, no one’s quite sure where it came from – but it makes for the perfect finishing touch.