When Ken Crosson of Auckland-based Crosson Architects first met with retired builder Bob de Leeuw and his wife Chris to discuss the design of their new holiday home in Kuaotunu, the architect immediately fell in love with the couple’s attitude to life.
“They are humble but courageous,” says Crosson of his clients’ personalities, which drove the design of their new retreat. The understated home doesn’t overshadow its beachfront location, yet it possesses distinctive qualities unique to the region.
Guided by a site-specific design approach, the architects explored Kuaotunu’s gold mining history and the many abandoned mines nearby. To pay homage to the area’s gold rush in the late 19th century, Crosson took the shape of a mine shaft, inverted it, and placed the pyramidal form atop the home to create a sculptural roofline topped with skylights.
“The shafts are inverted, mining the sunshine and starlight, extending into the sky as opposed to the earth,” note the architects. “Within the strategically placed shafts, drama is created and time is registered as the sun moves around the house.”
The Light Mine has a playful, bach-like quality with its simple timber exterior and single-story massing that comprises a series of “pods” set around a grassy courtyard shaded by a mature New Zealand Christmas tree.
“[The holiday home needed] to work for the extended family, or just a party of two,” explains Crosson. The spatial layout consists of a beachside pod that holds the living areas and master bedroom; a pod behind with a bunk room and bedroom for the clients’ kids and grandchildren; and a detached guest suite across the courtyard.
“There was to be a series of zones where one could be closeted away in retreat—or one could open up the buildings and utilize the outdoor space in between.”
In contrast to the silvery facade, the light-filled interiors are wrapped in whitewashed band-sawn cedar that lend a sense of warmth throughout. The eye-catching Light Mine won Home magazine’s Home of the Year 2020 award.