New Zealand Riviera
To entice buyers to a resort development, Pip Cheshire and Terry Hunziker designed a rustic guest lodge
John Alderman -- Interior Design, 1/1/2005 12:00:00 AM
Bay of Islands, a remote spot about 150 miles northeast of Auckland, New Zealand, is a place where the outdoors means everything. Located in a part of the country known as the "winterless north"—temperatures average 83 degrees year-round—the low-key vacation destination attracts vacationers and residents with activities such as sailing, windsurfing, big-game fishing, and just taking in the magnificent landscape. Peter Cooper, a Californian who is part Maori, is one of many visitors to have fallen in love with Bay of Islands, so much so that he and his wife, Sue, purchased a 900-acre farm there and subdivided it into 10-acre residential parcels under the name Mountain Landing.
Among the Coopers' first moves was to call on architect Pip Cheshire, then managing director of Auckland firm Jasmax, and Terry Hunziker, ' an American designer, to build and furnish a guest lodge where potential Mountain Landing buyers could stay while getting a taste of the surroundings. Both men had worked with the Coopers before. Cheshire, now principal of his own namesake firm, is well versed in local architecture and materials. (He's also an avid surfer.) Hunziker, who designs outdoor furniture as well as residential and commercial interiors, employs a visual vocabulary that speaks to the natural setting with sophisticated restraint. His collaboration with Cheshire produced a two-bedroom, two-bath, 1,200-square-foot lodge generally referred to as the boathouse—which takes full advantage of climate and scenery in a style that echoes the region's pleasant ruggedness.
Cheshire describes the Bay of Islands area as the cradle of civilization for both Maori and European settlers. Legend has it, the Cooper property is where the Maori landed their canoes 1,000 years ago and where whites first built houses in the 19th century. "Just up the hill from the boathouse is a tree marking the arrival of the first white woman born in this country," Cheshire says.
His boathouse emphasizes the unique nature of the prime bayside location, where the land rolls gently toward the beach. "Architects here are very influenced by climate and sense of place," he says. Fittingly, the two-story gabled structure is clad in New Zealand's abundant macrocarpa, a California cypress brought over by white settlers. (There's even a cypress shading two of the boathouse's three concrete-paved terraces.) The wood then carries through to the walls and ceilings of the rustic interior, where the majority of floors are concrete tiles. Because Cheshire specified these subdued materials without any secondary finishing, the timber will eventually fade to gray, and the concrete will gently weather.
Hunziker furnished the interior with many of his custom designs—from the great room and master suite downstairs to a loft bedroom ' and bath above. "The natural colors and materials I usually prefer fit in with the Coopers' clubby, somewhat masculine tastes," he says. In the double-height great room, toffee-colored leather upholsters his club chairs, positioned to face Cheshire's double-sided raw-concrete fireplace, shared with the adjacent terrace. Identical leather covers his steel stools, which line the poured-concrete breakfast bar extending from the open kitchen to another terrace. "To New Zealand eyes," Cheshire says, "Terry's furniture looks very unusual. It's a lot more solid, and the colors are much more subdued. By contrast, we tend to have brighter colors and finer lines." The dining area's teak table and benches are not of his design, but they share the same forceful aesthetic.
Strategically placed sculptures impart additional earthiness. Jerome Abel Seguin's canoe of reclaimed Indonesian wood hangs from the great room's cathedral ceiling. Paul Dibble's cast-bronze voyager figure does a handstand in a niche near the stair up to the simple loft bedroom—where flooring changes to chocolate-brown blackbean wood from the Solomon Islands.
To increase continuity between the interior and the all-important outside, Hunziker chose his own teak terrace furniture, pieces that wouldn't look out of place in the great room. The dining terrace faces north. On the southeast side of the boathouse, an outdoor living area enjoys the reverse side of the great room's fireplace on chilly nights. The third terrace offers four inviting chaise longues facing directly out to the Bay of Islands. With a view like that, Mountain Landing sells itself.