Country Retreat

Martinborough, New Zealand

We designed this country house in New Zealand’s Wairarapa valley to have minimal impact on the surrounding native bush yet give maximum access to the natural scenery. The house is sited on a 12.5-acre property composed almost entirely of native bush. The house is placed on the only area of pasture on the site. Happily, this was nearly flat and close enough to the road that the house could be built with minimal disturbance to the land. The house is composed of two wings, a living pavilion and a bedrooms pavilion joined by a flat roofed entry. The composition is intended to evoke the rural sheep sheds and other utilitarian structures seen up and down this country road.

The predominant exterior material is corrugated steel. We used it on the roof and on the walls of both pavilions. We arranged the corrugations vertically at the bedrooms pavillion and horizontally at the living pavillion. We set the entry apart by using formalized river rock and wire mesh “gabion” walls bracketing the entry wall of painted V-groove boards to create a solid entry. This gives way to a set of tripple stacking sliding glass doors and a dramatic view of the surrounding native bush on entering the house.

One of the most interesting features in the house is the efficient and rustic looking galvanized steel roof trusses. This system eliminates the need for large timber ridge beams while allowing for dramatic high ceilings inside. We also designed most of the furniture and some of the lighting in the house using the same galvanized steel tubing and macrocarpa timber. Both timber and steel were locally sourced and fabricated.

This project was published as the cover story of Trends Magazine Outdoor Living & Holiday Home Volume 27 No 3. For more information go to the awards and publications section of our website. Go to Trends e-magazine for more images and an interview with the architect and to Trends Ebook for the article itself and also the entire magazine. The house was also featured in our local house and garden tour.


Holmes Construction Group
Greytown, New Zealand
Andy Holmes Ph 06 304 9816

Landscape design and installation:
Andrew Spiers, Infinite Landscapes
Masterton, New Zealand 06 378 7003

Timber slab furnishings:
Andrew Havard, Big Macs Slabs
Masterton, New Zealand 0508 244 622

Steel Fabrication for structural steel in house and custom furnishings:
Mark Hullena and Pete Bull
Progressive Engineering PECO
Masterton, New Zealand 06 377 4901

Photo Credit:
John Nicholson
Fairfax NZ (selected photos)

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