Waiheke Island ridge house

A ridge stretching between Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf and the pastoral landscape of Waiheke Island provided a stunning and challenging context to design a getaway house that will one day become a permanent home. The clients are returning to live in New Zealand after a long period in Asia.

The approach was to work within the contour of the ridge in an attempt to minimise the impact on the landscape. The sensitivity of design preserves and enhances the essence of the surrounding landscape. The interconnected series of rooms and courtyards across the ridgeline simultaneously opens out towards the ridgeline on one side, remaining anchored to the earth on the other. A landscape wall clad in locally coloured stone splays out from the primary plan form to provide a point of entry to the house and allows for an excavated garage below the ground line.

The materiality of the house draws on two architectural conditions of Waiheke. The gun emplacements of Stoney Batter inspired the masonry forms. The use of cedar and plywood reflects the precarious weekenders of the island’s past. Ascending the stairs to the southern courtyard, welcome views of a dramatic revelation of an ever-expansive view through the centre of the house towards the horizon, across the Gulf and its idyllic islands. The living spaces envelope either side of the courtyard and the accompanying Northern courtyard, bridged by a gabled roof stretching across the long axis. The courtyards offer a retreat from the dominant wind and sun, enabling a subtle breeze to refresh the interiors.

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Waiheke, Auckland, New Zealand


  • Daniel Marshall


  • Patrick Reynolds
  • Ernie Shackles


  • NZIA – Auckland Branch Award
  • HOME of the Year – Finalist


  • A Place in the Sun: Innovative Homes Design For Our Climate, Australia and New Zealand
  • ARQ Design
  • Life Element《生活元素》
  • HOME New Zealand