Luxury family home Mahuika on Waiheke Island by Daniel Marshall Architects

In association with Fisher & Paykel.

A theatre of the environment. That’s what architect Daniel Marshall calls this multi-level pavilion house that cedes to the bush in a remote corner of Waiheke Island — and as in the theatre, there’s plenty of drama to sustain the narrative, plus a backstory that provides layers of richness to the foundations.
The first official document of European ownership of land at Waikopou Bay on the eastern end of Waiheke is in 1837, but it wasn’t until almost seven decades later that a certain Samuel Powell and his son began the hard slog of constructing a house on these steep slopes facing Pakatoa Island. By 1905, a square-plan villa with a pyramidal hip roof and verandahs on three sides stood testament to their enterprise and endurance. Yet farming was marginal, and the property changed hands several times throughout the years, including to a Dunedin corn merchant, a knickerbocker-clad colonel and a Russian aristocrat, who ironically found the pioneer life on the island too harsh after emigrating from Siberia.

TOP With dark-stained timber cladding and ample glazing, this four-level home built by Lindesay Construction recedes into the bush backdrop. Inserted beneath the cantilever of the living room, the lap pool was a must-have on the owners’ wish list. ABOVE Because this is a holiday home that’s occupied part-time and often by several guests, a key requirement in the kitchen was abundant cold storage (not to mention ample seating here and in the adjoining dining space). The team at Fisher & Paykel guided the selection of appliances, among them two large-capacity, energy-efficient Fisher & Paykel 90cm French Door fridge-freezers integrated with the Corian ‘Glacier White’ cabinetry. Ideal on the outskirts of an island, their benefits include ActiveSmart technology that helps keep food fresh for as long as possible by adapting and adjusting to how the fridge-freezer is used, plus flexible shelving that offers lots of storage options.

When Daniel Marshall of DMA Architects spent the night here to experience the five-hectare site before conceptualising a design for his ex-pat Kiwi clients, the kauri villa had fallen into disrepair. There wasn’t any running water, and modifications over the years hadn’t kept pace with the times. A report on the heritage value of the dwelling and an archaeological assessment gave the go-ahead for a new chapter to be written.
Daniel’s clients wanted a place with a visceral connection to the land — a place with a real sense of homecoming. To him, the stage for this production was ring-fenced by four geographic features. “The ridgeline, the creek, the sea and the bush were the critical drivers of the design,” he says. A glass pavilion was the natural solution.

TOP Wraparound glazing means the view of the sea and trees, including 100-year-old nīkau palms, can be accessed from every room. The structure is further supported by diagonal struts that form bracing akin to that of a suspension bridge. ABOVE With chic white surfaces and sleek black appliances from Fisher & Paykel’s Minimal range (including two 60cm, 16-Function, Self-Cleaning ovens with 85L capacity and touchscreen-guided cooking, a 60cm Combination microwave oven with a generous 37L capacity and 10 different auto-cooking modes, and a 90cm Induction 5-Zone cooktop with SmartZone that links and controls two elements as one — handy when preparing that big fish you just caught in your largest pan), the kitchen is deliberately recessive, so the view can steal the show. Two Fisher & Paykel 60cm dishwashers with multiple wash programmes are fully integrated and out of sight.

Although the idea of a transparent dwelling came immediately and the building platform on the precipitous hillside was a given, the owners threw a curve ball into their brief: a 20m lap pool. With the bush backdrop covenanted and a 6m height restriction, there was precious little room on the site to deliver this request, so the DMA team floated the idea of a cantilevered living space that stretches out above the pool — a slender strip that occupies the length of the north-west flank of the platform.

TOP Complete with a pizza oven and a Fisher & Paykel DCS Built-in 48” grill, which provides grilling on four burners and slow-cooking and roasting via the infrared rotisserie burner, the outdoor kitchen is enthusiastically used by the family — which includes three college-age children — and their friends. ABOVE Concrete floors in a salt-and-pepper finish run throughout the living areas. The oak Soul dining table by Cameron Foggo for Nonn and Tangerine chairs by Resident, all from Simon James, are clean-lined yet warm within the minimal architecture. The house is set up so it can be self-sufficient, with solar power and its own sewage treatment system.

The design programme took shape somewhat effortlessly, with four low-slung levels stepping down the hillside, DMA taking care to weave the home into and around the background. Apart from the obvious challenges of building in such an off-track location, things were coming together nicely — until disaster struck.
In March 2020, in the middle of the night, a week before practical completion, a fire began to smoulder on the parking platform alongside the garage. Batteries ready to be connected to the solar power exploded, and by the time the fire brigade had used sea water to douse the flames, two entire levels had been obliterated.

TOP Outside, the garapa decking was sensitively built around an existing queen palm. ABOVE Clean bedding and towels are always in hot demand at a bach, so to take the effort out of it, the laundry has been kitted out with an individual washer and dryer, plus a combination one. The Fisher & Paykel 12kg Front Loader washing machine has 14 wash cycles and ActiveIntelligence technology that optimises each cycle by auto-dosing detergent and adjusting the wash time according to how dirty the laundry is. The 9kg Heat Pump Condensing dryer has an 8-star energy rating, 18 dry cycles that offer better energy efficiency and fabric care by drying at a lower temperature, and an auto-sensing function that detects moisture to prevent under- or over-drying. Like the aforementioned, the Combi Front Loader washer-dryer doesn’t require venting. It gets the average load done and dusted in less than three hours.

Today, the house — which DMA has dubbed Mahuika in honour of the Māori goddess of fire — is rebuilt. A restrained palette of glass, concrete and dark-stained, narrow-profile vertical cedar acts as an invisibility cloak within the tropical surrounds. Inside, the elements of earth, sea and sky are dynamic. “Usually, a glass pavilion needs a richness of texture to define it, such as the marble in the Mies van der Rohe pavilion at Barcelona, but here that’s provided by the landscape and the light,” says Daniel.
As part of this play, an all-white kitchen bounces light into the living zone. A Fisher & Paykel fridge-freezer is integrated with the Corian surfaces and in the hidden scullery behind there’s another for good measure. “When you live remotely, it’s important to have enough high-quality refrigeration to keep things fresher for longer, so you don’t have to keep venturing out to the shops,” says Daniel.
Two Fisher & Paykel wall ovens and a microwave are the yin to the yang of the cabinetry, a block of sleek black that, like the glazing, reflects the view of the sea and amplifies the density of the foliage that surrounds the home’s southern elevation.

ABOVE The living pavilion extends out above the heated pool, which is finished with polished marble in deep blue Hydrazzo Maui Midnight.

Set up for entertaining international visitors, the kitchen also has two Fisher & Paykel dishwashers, and on the deck, a high-performance DCS barbecue and pizza oven extend the culinary creativity outdoors. When they’re here for the summer, the family loves the casual nature of eating alfresco as the weather patterns change with the tides.
This open-natured design delivers an immersive experience that resonates in and of its location. It’s architecture that could be nowhere else but Aotearoa.

Photography Sam Hartnett

Filed under:

error: Copyright The Pluto Group Ltd 2022 - contact us for usage licence

Homestyle shares
modern ways
to make a home
in New Zealand

Sign up to receive the latest in your inbox

Thanks for subscribing to Homestyle's newsletter - we'll be in touch soon.