Red house in the bush works on all levels

Described by NZIA judges as a ‘witty counterpoint’ to the surrounding bush, this red house by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects is a tall, box-like volume with expansive glazing.

Why do we seldom see a colourful house today?

Is it to do with constraints laid down by developers, which result in streets and streets of grey, brown and beige houses, or is it simply not fashionable?

We know black is strongly favoured for contemporary architecture – this is often teamed with raw timber. But red? Almost never, but architect Ken Crosson of Crosson Architects had other ideas for this house on a bush-clad site in Titirangi, Auckland.

Vertical and horizontal panels of red corrugated steel enliven the exterior of this Titirangi house designed by architect Ken Crosson.

The house, which won the Housing category of the NZIA Architecture Awards 2015, is clad in red corrugated steel.

The owners, Janis Marler and Blair Harkness did not specify the colour of the house in their brief to the architect. In fact Marler says, “It wasn’t our decision. I’m not a red person. I don’t particularly care for red. I rather like black, but my problem is I’m constantly black. But when red was suggested, well, it’s perky and it’s got a certain charm, and I like the idea of red with the tone of the bush around it. I think it was red because there are reds in the bush. And it is really quite lovely.”

The award judges would agree. In announcing the win, they said, “The house is wonderfully connected to its environment; from its various levels you could safely swear that you can see the trees, the whole trees, and nothing but the trees. Design clarity and material simplicity provide an appropriate backdrop for the owners’ relaxed lifestyle, and the red corrugated iron cladding offers a witty counterpoint to the green canopy and is a nod to the Kiwi vernacular.”

Other special features of the house include extensive glazing through all levels, which includes top-hung windows on pneumatic lifts. “The occupant is at once connected to and protected from the elements,” says the architect.

A glazed roof visually connects the interior to a roof deck, which sits above much of the surrounding tree canopy and is bathed in sun throughout the day.

On the interior, the house is lined with natural plywood and timber, which ensure it looks right at home in the bush.