Black Gables

Resting softly among the lakeside trees, the Black Gables house peers out to Lake Tarawera. Its outward appearance ensures its look of belonging in the environment – connecting the site to the lake.


The client brief for their family home design on the shores of the lake specified a gabled roof profile. The challenging site, with steep slopes and no flat building platform, was made to work to advantage – the intent being to design three building volumes, carved from the landscape. The result nestles the house into the topography, creating a flow which links indoor and outdoor living spaces.


Three different volumes of the gabled sections serve both to separate different social living areas as well as allowing transition from those living spaces to private bedroom areas. The interplay of the staggered gable volumes create a connection to the landscape at each level of the house.
Designed to Passive House (Passiv Haus) principles, the house has been evaluated to require approximately 17% of the energy expenditure compared to a similar sized dwelling designed using traditional ideology to the current NZ Building Code. Super-effective insulation, airtightness, UPVC triple glazing and a mechanical ventilation system all combine to result in a warm, dry and comfortable house utilising state-of-the art design and technology.


The client is an accomplished joiner, completing the bulk of the build, and applying his eye for perfection to many of the finishing details such as the hand made oak feature wall in the living area. As the sun transitions across the large, north-east facing window during the day it provides an ever-shifting play of light through the feature wall installation.