In the River Valley House, Waikanae,  with a lack of obvious site constraints in an open bucolic setting, the programme was re-defined or framed within another set of parameters. The brief described a building that, if conceptualised in traditional terms ‘in the round’, would have been dwarfed by the site and exposed in a very high wind area. The requirement for discrete ‘regions’ and a priority for sheltered outdoor space meant that a new definition of the immediate landscape was required.

What evolved suggested the picture plane be pulled back to a more localised position, in a manner similar to focus and depth of field in photography. Existing but distant limits such as boundary, visual containment, topography and intimacy were amplified and concentrated on the focal point of the site. The energising and prioritising of one area over another results here in the definition of other notional ‘rooms’ in the site located outward from the primary construction. This strategy resulted in clarification of the formal delineation between the cleared and constructed.

Here, the concept of enclave – a sheltered grouping in an open, undefined landscape – addresses the primitive imperative of security in a seemingly scaleless site. The restrained building forms refer to the traditional: steel-framed-and-clad, mono-pitched rural buildings, which ‘float’ on elevated concrete floors and are linked by a stepped glazed core. The interlocking ‘grounded’ courtyards fix the floating offset structures to the site, finalising and locating them.

The newly constructed re-presentation of the ‘boundary’ wraps the structures, defining points of access to and from the site. This grounded structure opens to reveal elevated ‘captured’ vignettes. In an accentuation of the existing site condition, contour is compressed and employed as a topographical device, in both indoor and outdoor transition through the constructed site.

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