By Rachel Ang
By Rachel Ang
Eyrie comprises two very small dwellings, located at the inlet of Kaipara, near Kaiwaka. Nestled into, and sheltered by a hilly estuarine site, and seemingly at sea in long green grass, each tiny house is fully constructed from timber, exteriors burnt black. Both houses are square in plan, encompass a mere 30 square metres, with a skillion profile – a simple response to the desire for shelter.
A pair of black boxes, in a sea of green – there is something absolute and singular about these twins. There is no landscaping around, no welcoming path to lead you to the door. In fact, there is no door. What there is is a large window one can climb through into the spaces, with the help of two natural boulders. In fact, it appears that the position of the boulders is what determined the siting and orientation of the shelters; we’ve stumbled upon a delightful meeting of the architect’s rigid abstract logic and the irregular natural world.
Once we clamber over the boulder and in through the window, we discover a warm cosy interior. The ground floor is lined in plywood with timber board floors, and consists of a peaceful sitting room. A narrow stair leads upstairs to a second storey and bedroom. Both dwellings are off-grid and autonomous. However much these look like a pair, they are two separate homes for two different clients, and each wanted a different kind of shelter. One requested a retreat of “inky blackness” – a dark panelled respite to crawl into and be freely introspective. Here, light enters from a sky-light above. The other wanted a warm, pine timber cabinet “to hold them aloft above the grass” – in this dwelling, large generous windows open up to welcome in the views and natural light.
The architects describe the house as a subversion of traditional ideas of home. The details we might usually expect – a door, flashing, a gutter, a welcome mat – are eschewed completely, and we are asked to think about what shelter really means, and requires. The absence of the door does put the dweller at the mercy of the weather, however, perhaps we are really most at home – that is to say, most in touch with our true nature – when we are in touch with the natural, unpredictable world. As the architects of the project explain, “in subverting the shorthand language of building, these little constructions might feel like something other than – and more than – houses.”
Photography Jeremy Toth