Strachan Group Architects designed Foothills House, located in Pokeno, near Auckland, New Zealand, as a contemporary country estate with a decidedly industrial aesthetic. Nestled into the sloping landscape on 3 levels, the home wraps in a “U” shape around a long grassed courtyard with a wide concrete path flanking it. The low side of the U is the social zone, and the private zone is on the high side with the courtyard on an intermediate level. The home is built with natural stack bonded concrete block with an exposed post and beam steel structure supporting the roof over the surrounding walls of glazings.
The concrete block is used as a windbreak for the pool and terrace, keeping the zones sheltered from the strong south-westerly winds.
The terrace is also sheltered by the concrete block , but also makes use of the homes roof overhang to protect it not only from the winds, but also from the strong summer sun.
The steel structure supporting the roof consists of a steel I-beam and stel posts in the same shade of grey as the concrete blocks. The cool hue of the steel is countered by the warm wood tones of the roof’s ceiling.
The terrace is located just outside the family room and is accessed by sliding walls of glass.
The family room is surrounded by glazings to make the most of the amazing panoramic views. The free standing fireplace within the zone features a stainless steel chimney flu that “reflects” the grey hues of the surrounding steel structures.
The steel beams are the mullions to the windows on the view side but on the courtyard side they turn into angled statements stretching from their concrete bases as though they are industrial vegetation growing from the landscape at their feet.
The courtyard is lined with these industrial statements and it is not until the stairs leading to the private zone at the base of the U is reached that the angled posts stop and become replaced with a more standard I-beam and post detail
The steps are an open riser design of wood planks with a solid timber balustrade.
The private volume to the home replaces the walls of glazing with concrete blocks and horizontal timber siding. The row of windows visible overlooking the courtyard belong to two of the 3 family bedrooms. The Master Suite on the end is the only bedroom with a wall of glazings.
The social zone is laid out with the living room near the base of the U just behind the kitchen. In front of the kitchen is first the dining area and then the family zone.
The social zone is wrapped in glazings that open both to the poolside terrace and to the inner courtyard.
At the base of the U is where the gym, laundry, entry, garage and study are located. Designed for a family of 5, the home is spacious and bright with lots of room for family time and entertaining.
Strachan Group Architects
Photography by Patrick Reynolds