Island Retreat

This retreat for a family is an arrangement of freestanding structures around a courtyard, set in a saddle above Matiatia Bay.

The environment of Waiheke Island can be idyllic, but also inhospitable with exposure to northerlies and southwesterlies of the Hauraki Gulf. The natural undulations of the saddle have been subtly emphasized to form a protective setting for three structures, a pool and the open spaces between.

Conceived as a camp, the architecture has developed direct references from this typology. Individual roof planes cover the three structures, each separately housing the functions of living, sleeping and studio. These draped planes are tensioned over rough concrete forms embedded in the undulating contour.

The concrete forms enclose service spaces associated with each activity, while an arrangement of retractable glass panels and perforated aluminium screens offer variations of enclosure to living and sleeping space. This layered enclosure, the thermal mass of the concrete construction and inclusion of solar energy generation, rainwater harvesting and onsite waste water management ensures that minimal demand is made on resources outside the site.

While the materials respond to the environment with robust toughness, this is countered by an invitation of leather cushioning around a sunken sitting area, and use of linen fabrics and oiled natural timber throughout the spaces.

The retreat offers exposure to and protection from the elements. The architecture balances raw material with tailored comfort and intends to provide the family with richness of experience during their time on the island.

The internal floor area is approximately 375m2 and construction was completed in 2011. Fearon Hay’s project team was led by Stephen de Vrij with Robin Gieselhardt. Tim Hay and Jeff Fearon are the design architects. Interiors are a collaboration with Penny Hay. Photography is by Patrick Reynolds & Gaelle le Boullicault with styling by Penny Hay & Amelia Holmes.

Recognition: Winner of a New Zealand Architecture Award (NZIA Awards 2011) Published in Elle Decoration UK (September 2012) Finalist in the World Architecture Awards, (WAF Singapore 2012)