A Study in Simplicity – River Retreat by Edwards White Architects
Taupiri, Waikato, New Zealand
River Retreat by Edwards White Architects is a study in simplicity. The contemporary light-filled family home, in Taupiri, New Zealand, captures a casual informality and embraces its surrounding landscape.
Appropriately scaled to its narrow residential site and engaging with the landscape, River Retreat reviews the fundamentals of size, referencing scale, and the impact of a formality that speaks to the typical house vernacular. Edward White Architects has proposed a home that speaks to the desire of its owners for contemporary open living, together with a modest approach to habitation. With the front exterior punctuated by minimal openings to maintain privacy, the resulting street presence of the home is subdued and relaxed – a place of retreat.
Built by McKay Construction in collaboration with Merchant Industries and with landscape design also by Edward White Architects, River Retreat sits just shy of 100 square metres. From approach, visitors are led up a singular path, slightly offset from the entry, along a wall of vertical cedar screens and up onto the deck. The informality of the home, although seen from the street, is experienced in these initial interactions with the building, and the integrated landscape. The home is envisioned as a place of respite, and the deliberate sense of non-structure and ease of familiarity is dotted throughout.
Comprised of warm timber battens, steel and glass, the exterior is an uncomplicated singular form, clearly making its presence known amongst the landscape. Seemingly closed from the front, the home opens up to the rear, allowing a sense of privacy and its own sanctuary to be created. At the centre of the home is the kitchen, where the exterior deck is integrated in a gesture that the inherently links the interior and exterior. Spread over two levels, the mezzanine sits atop the open living area, with an exposed integrated bookcase that acts also as a balustrade. The sense of openness and connection is key, with a casual oeuvre imbedded throughout, while the use of muted tones, white plaster and timber boards injects a sense of calm. The warm timber is highlighted by the polished concrete floor of the living space, warmed by the open wood burning fireplace.
River Retreat reviews the fundamentals of size.
River Retreat embraces a sense of the uncomplicated, with a sheltering face of protection from its streetscape. Edwards White Architects has carved a formally interesting and equally bold departure from the traditional residential response, allowing for a true sense of refuge to ensue.