By the time you read this, the first Homewerk cabin will have left the yard in Katikati, where it was built, and fetched up in an orchard in the Bay of Plenty, where it’ll double as a bach and accommodation for visiting farm workers.
And Homewerk’s Sammy-Rose Scapens and Oliver Starr will have started on their second cabin, which they hope will be the first of many: you can order one for yourself on their website, choosing between three sizes – Petite, Originale and a two-bedroom Double – and a variety of colourways, cladding, flooring and lighting options. They cost between $185,000 and $240,000 excluding GST.
They’re designed so they can go on a truck anywhere in the country at minimal cost, with a certain price, about three months after you place an order. They’re architecturally designed – by Scapens and longtime collaborator Sarah Stuart – and nice touches include ply lining and rich colours.
Scapens and Starr started the cabin project a year or so back, after running their design-build company in Tauranga for a few years. “We realised our most successful projects came about when clients had seen through the concept plan and it was easy for the building team,” says Scapens of the move. “It was organised and solid, and they followed through with the colour – and it was simple to build.”
Scapens and Starr wanted to create something that was nicely designed but accessible at a lower price point – maybe as a first home, maybe as a rental or extra accommodation for whānau, or as a starter bach. And, thanks to changes in density rules in our biggest cities, they provide an immediate way to create extra housing on an existing site with minimal consenting difficulties. “They’re simple,” says Scapens, as a truck rumbles past on State Highway 2.
Inspired loosely by 1960s modernist aesthetics, they feature high skillion ceilings with small windows for natural airflow and dappled light, as well as built-in furniture (a couch and a table), Hay light fittings and excellent amounts of clever storage – including a tall cupboard in the bathroom and a little desk in the bedroom.
The back wall is designed without windows, so they can sit back against a fence or create a private space between two dwellings. They’re efficiently planned and simply detailed – see the elegantly angled window in the living area.
This one is in the Viridian colourway: dark-green kitchen cabinetry, blue table and pale green walls, along with a particularly fetching fabric on the squabs of the built-in couch (which also turns into a queen bed). It’s restful; soothing. “Colour is our key motivator,” says Scapens. “I like building houses and spaces because I like the poetic nature of it and how it feels. Colour is about the easiest way you can do that.”
Which is true, and not true, as these cabins show. The colours are one thing, but lofty spaces and clever planning are something else entirely.