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Award-winning barn-style timber house does away with plasterboard

Positioned near the Omaha River, this house is comprised of two main wings, connected by a sheltered central courtyard and boardwalk. A gabled guest wing is positioned at one end.

Situated along the Omaha River just north of Auckland, with corrugated iron roofing and cedar weatherboards the three barn-like volumes of this new house look right at home in the rural landscape. 

And that's the intention, says architect Aaron Paterson, of Paterson Architecture Collective (P-A-C).

But designing and constructing the home, which was the winner in two categories at the Resene Timber Design Awards 2017, was a step outside his usual comfort zone and an introduction to an entirely different material world.

All three volumes have stained cedar cladding and a corrugated iron roof, in keeping with the rural location.

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"The homeowner was quite specific that they didn't want any plasterboard," says Aaron Paterson. "So it's really a vernacular style, and very much inspired by rural, farmhouse-type forms… which was quite a different style for me."

Paterson embraced the opportunity to learn more about traditional construction techniques, and the use of timber as the primary material not only on the exterior, but throughout the interior as well.


Board-formed concrete was used for the chimney and other external features. The horizontal banding echoes the look of the weatherboard cladding.

"As the project went on, I continued to do research on timber and timber construction, and I became absolutely fascinated. I usually work in a very modernist style - with the construction techniques and material palette that typically accompanies that - so on a certain level I was entering a new world with this project."

Paterson credits the on-going relationship between P-A-C and builders Lindesay Construction for the project's success.

"They're so knowledgeable about high-end timber construction, so their expertise and skill enabled the design to be realised - and I learned so much from them throughout the process."

Views of the rural landscape and nearby Omaha River are an integral aspect of the design, and the main rooms of the house can be opened up to the outdoors.

From a distance, the house blends clean-lined modernism with the functionality of rural out-buildings. The main house is comprised of two pavilions, aligned to true north, with an east-west boardwalk between them. A third pavilion - containing the garage and guest accommodation above - is positioned at one end. 

"It's a very contemporary plan; it's set out on a grid and very systematic, which allowed us to complete the build in just 11 months," says Paterson. "And because we kept that aspect of the design quite simple, we were able to spend time on the detailing and make the beauty of the timber and the hand-crafted joinery and hardware a real feature, both inside and out."

The cedar weatherboards begin as a narrow board and gradually expand as they go up, until they've doubled in width at the gable apex. New Zealand beech is mitred and spliced to form a seamless tongue-and-groove lining throughout the interior. 

Large-scale light fixtures in the kitchen and dining area work well with the exposed structural hardware and beams.

The home's structural components - the transom beams and truss frames - are joined by exposed galvanised bolts, giving the interior an industrial edge. These framing elements are made from Tonka heartwood, a South American timber which has reddish-brown or purplish-brown with lighter streaks when first cut, and on exposure gradually becomes uniform light brown.

"The timber interior is dark and rich - it's very moody, which is quite different to the white-walled modernist interiors that I'm typically designing," says Paterson. "It really warm and embracing."

Skylights and full-height windows and doors bring in plenty of light and, when opened, blur the lines between the home and the surrounding landscape.

The structural hardware has been left exposed as an architectural detail. A row of windows along the ridge of the roof allows natural light to penetrate into the interior.

The home was designed by Paterson Architecture Collective, Steven Lloyd Architecture & Glamuzina Architects.

The deck joins the two main volumes of the house and allows a continuous line-of-sight from one side to the other.

The east-west boardwalk meanders between the structures, helping to link the house to the land and providing a variety of outdoor spaces.



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