New Homes

Luxury Family Resort, Bay of Islands

Nestled into the hillside high above the sea, this family retreat references small cliff top villages in the Mediterranean


Mataka Station, Bay of Islands


Neville H. Price + Associates Architects

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Project details

Take one spectacular view and a building site of 1148ha and you have the key ingredients for a holiday home with a difference. This property, in the picturesque Bay of Islands, has a particularly steep terrain with a building site on a ridge overlooking a sandy beach.

The clifftop position of the house, which was designed by architect Neville H Price, meant the views could be maximised and the building tucked within the natural contours of the hillside. The main contractor, Eddie Cooney of Luxor Homes, says the owners wanted to incorporate similar materials to the architect’s own home on an adjacent lot. This features time-honoured materials and finishes, such as coloured plaster walls, stone floors, and antique clay roofing tiles.

To create a sense of permanence and solidity, the house was built from Polyblock reinforced with concrete. This provides the deep reveals that define traditional European buildings. But the Mediterranean influence extends even further. The massing of the architecture is reminiscent of a hillside village in the South of Italy, France or Greece. Designed as a series of linked elements, the house spreads out along the ridge, the more horizontal forms balanced by symmetrical tower elements.

“Both the house and the landscaping have a strong symmetry,” says Cooney. “The layout of the rooms in the main house is very symmetrical as they spread out from the central stairwell and lobby. And the two guest wings, one on the east side of the house and one on the west, are mirror images of each other. ”Cooney says at the request of the owners, the house was precisely aligned to face due magnetic north. This precision meant there was no margin for error, and new technology was incorporated to ensure measurements were exact for perfect alignment.

To accommodate the gradient, the house sits on two levels, with the main living area on the upper level. Price says the house was designed to go through the ridge on the hill, rather than sit on top of it, so the building appears one level from the driveway. While the house was always designed to nestle into the ridge, now that the extensive landscaping is taking shape, the house is beginning to grow back into the land, which helps disguise its size.

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