On this hillside site, overlooking Waipara's Omihi Valley and the vines of the renowned Black Estate winery, Russell's Cabins is a quiet escape for a busy couple. Designed in keeping with the rural vernacular, it borrows from the logic and resilience of Aotearoa's DOC huts to sit effortlessly within the surrounding bush and farmland.
The client's desire to fabricate the cabins offsite dictated each be less than 10 square metres, so the experience splits across three forms — two bedrooms and a living space — each with adjoining decks. Employing a restrained material palette of South Island-sourced timbers with sloping corrugated iron roofs, a consistent square form allowed for efficiencies in the cabins' design, aligning well with the clients' restricted budget. Though near-identical, unique picture window placement, clerestory glazing and their orientation on the site ensure the cabins retain their own defining character, experience and privacy.
The cabins are entirely off-grid and maintain an inherent camp-like quality, where the outdoors becomes a functional living extension. An in-situ concrete bench behind the living cabin forms the outdoor kitchen, a compostable toilet and outdoor shower hide in the gum trees up the hill, while the bath sits perched on deck's edge, looking out to the valley below and stars above.
Photography by Sarah Rowlands
“Macrocarpa weatherboard exterior, eucalyptus interior and recycled wharf timber decks, along with the variation in elevations of the three huts, ensure the accommodation sits effortlessly within its surroundings.”