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Quarry Side House


This three bedroom rural family home is an exemplar of simplicity, done with care and precision.

Tucked in alongside a private limestone quarry with cows grazing in the distance the choice of materials is intuitively natural and implemented with bare authenticity.

Modern plywood hallway

The house is a respectful observer of a stunning landscape. As you approach the site from the township; though it sits upon a crest; rather than protruding into the idyllic scenery, the house in fact does not reveal itself until you are well down the driveway. Oiled random width cedar weatherboards, finished in Wood-X Kauri Gum, are contemporary and rustic, the polished concrete floors with exposed aggregate tie in wonderfully to the adjacent limestone cliffs, and the clean folded wall to roof, envelopes the building from the sheltered south to the amazing views to the north. Designed to portray purity of form the surface provides enclosure and shelter from the elements, while its inner face is a continuous skin of hoop pine timber from inside to out.

Designed of honest pure forms and natural intuitive materials the house has a rural simplicity and function combined with sleek and precise contemporary detailing, born from a symbiotic design passion and appreciation between both architect and client combined then with a builder was driven to craft this house with precision.

Modern timber exterior

Tightly designed to be compact yet beautiful every detail required careful thought in design and craft in construction. As two simple boxes joined by a glass link, a house that sits so beautifully in the landscape was deceptively challenging and stands as a credit to the clients’ passion for their new home and the builder’s craftsmanship to see it though.

Timber exterior

Modern home exterior

Fundamentally this house was to be honest and pure with an intuitive connection to its landscape. With timbers to look like timbers, metal like metal and stone like stone. This describes the concept of a seemingly effortless palette that required precise care and effort in its specifications so that any man-made treatments to these materials were to in effect become invisible to the eye.

Black and plywood kitchen

The hoop pine linings curve gracefully up the inner walls, then soar continuous outward past the full height glazing to the outside soffit. Great care was taken in specifying the treatments and finish of the plywood. Walls, splashbacks, ceilings and soffits – each required specific attention with the goal being a seamless continuation of a pure woodgrain finish from inside to out. The vertical cedar weatherboards fold in between the two rectilinear forms transitioning from an exterior cladding to an interior lining within the glazed study that links the private to the public living spaces.

Modern black kitchen

The bold vertical lines of the ply panel are strongly expressed with Resene Lumbersider in Resene Ironsand in the routered joins aligning with windows and jambs, they guide the eye up and out so as you step inside the landscape flows out in front of you and the curved plywood linings envelope you in their warmth.

Modern lounge

The real challenge which the designer had to overcome was to create a seamless visual continuation of both plywood and cedar from inside to out. Both timber materials were to be expressed seemingly in their raw natural state without any noticeable tinting of the timbers and with a clear and visible grain and texture. They had to appear completely unchanged while providing adequate protection as they pass through very different conditions in and out of the building envelope. The coatings were specified in coordination and in-depth consultation with the local Resene representative. Inside the ply was untinted finished with two coats of Resene Aquaclear waterborne urethane. Yet behind the hob – it had to appear just as natural and unadorned while withstand the demands of its location. A low sheen Resene Uracryl was specified for that particular panel, giving greater durability and washability but being very hard to detect with the eye.

Open-plan lounge

The exterior treatments were the real challenge. The coating needed to protect the timber in an external weather environment. Wear, UV exposure, de-lamination and general protection of the treasured hoop pine ply was of prime importance. A marine poly would wear away and potentially leave the ply exposed to irreparable damage. A paint would protect the timber but hide the woodgrain. Wood-X Damper was chosen with its ability to absorb into and protect the timber, providing just enough tint to withstand its conditions yet be natural and visually indistinguishable from the inside linings. The routered joins and cut edges were coated in Resene Lumbersider in Resene Ironsand – giving prime protection to the delicate laminations while deliberately expressing the panel alignments which had been laid out to precision.

Modern timber home office

White and timber master bedroom

Inside coating the cedar in Resene Colorwood ties in with the external colouring. Interior plasterboard is finished in Resene Alabaster, with Resene Zylone Sheen in dry areas, Resene SpaceCote in wet areas and Resene Lustacryl on trim and joinery.

The Resene coatings systems were critical in achieving the core intent of the design – basically to not be seen – to let the purity and honestly of the timber shine through yet protect those same timbers for many many years to come – providing a seamless effortless appearance under a variety of rural and domestic conditions.

Architectural specifier: Ian Cattoen-Gilbert, Totem Studio Architects
Building contractor: Mike Thomas
Photographer: John Foster
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2020

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