Little height

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Designer William Taylor was tasked with designing a simple yet significant outdoor room for a couple who enjoy entertaining.

Designer William Taylor was tasked with designing a simple yet significant outdoor room for a couple who enjoy entertaining. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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The asymmetric structure is a nod to the natural spatial arrangement of the tree canopy.

The asymmetric structure is a nod to the natural spatial arrangement of the tree canopy. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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Nestled within the surrounding vegetation, the structure affords a close relationship with the bush.

Nestled within the surrounding vegetation, the structure affords a close relationship with the bush. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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Sustainably sourced rosawa (Fijian teak) was used extensively.

Sustainably sourced rosawa (Fijian teak) was used extensively. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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A bank of folding doors allows one side of the structure to be opened to the yard while providing shelter when needed.

A bank of folding doors allows one side of the structure to be opened to the yard while providing shelter when needed. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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Taylor referenced the verticality of the surrounding kauri as a link between the natural and built environments.

Taylor referenced the verticality of the surrounding kauri as a link between the natural and built environments. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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Elements from the main house – exposed beams and sarking – were also incorporated into the new structure.

Elements from the main house – exposed beams and sarking – were also incorporated into the new structure. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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The outdoor area has been greatly enlarged, providing the owners with a space for large-scale entertaining.

The outdoor area has been greatly enlarged, providing the owners with a space for large-scale entertaining. Image: Arvid Eriksson

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The asymmetric structure is a nod to the natural spatial arrangement of the tree canopy. Image:  Arvid Eriksson

As a general rule, we Kiwis are renowned for our hospitality and laid-back lifestyle, which, thanks to our oft-touted ‘temperate climate’ includes a lot of outdoor socialising. But even in Godzone the weather can play havoc with our plans for a spot of al fresco entertaining.
Not prepared to be dictated to by Mother Nature, the owners of this property tasked William Taylor with creating an outdoor room that would make year-round entertaining a reality.
“The clients share a love of food, wine, music and entertaining and being able to include friends and family in that appreciation is something they take very seriously,” says Taylor.
“The existing decking wasn’t conducive to large-scale entertaining and was cut off from the rest of the yard by balustrading. The desire was to enjoy a closer relationship to the bush setting, so they asked me to create an outdoor room that could be used all year round – enclosed on three sides yet remaining open towards the house and with doors opening the space out onto the lawn.
“Importantly, the structure had to relate to both its natural setting and the existing house. Likewise, durability was very important, but the materials were to remain complementary to the context and relationship between the natural and built environments - symmetry versus asymmetry.”
Armed with a brief to design something simple yet significant, Taylor drew on the immediate surroundings for inspiration incorporating the steeply pitched roof of the existing house – along with the exposed beams and sarking of the interior – with the verticality, colour and texture of the kauri-filled environment.
“It is the nature of vegetation within the canopy to reach for and find the sun – this introduced the idea of an asymmetric structure where an element lifted towards the morning light,” says Taylor.
“The choice of materials – sustainably sourced Fijian teak, metal, concrete and clear acrylic – also contributed to bringing to life a design fundamentally driven by context.”
The result is an example of small architecture perfectly fulfilling its purpose while offering more than the sum of its parts.
“Aesthetically, given the nature of the structure with all the detail exposed, an experienced and careful hand was required for its construction, which as it turns out is as close to perfect as you could hope. Beyond that though, this simple structure has given new life to an area without purpose, introducing a seamless flow between the house and the garden and providing the homeowners with another space in which to entertain.
“So impressed were they with the result, the clients decided it needed a name and discovered the Gaelic translation for Ardbeg – a favourite whiskey – was ‘Little Height’ and it was done; the little height amongst the tall kauri.”


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