Axe House

Omaka Valley, Marlborough

This is a house in a vineyard with no garden. In this landscape there are typically two typologies – complex farmhouses surrounded by garden, or simple farm buildings in the vines or paddocks. This house adopts an exaggerated linear gable form in scale with neighbouring farm buildings. It’s simplicity means on first viewing it might be mistaken for a shed rather than a house. It is only 5m wide but 41m long.

As with an earlier project the plan adopts the linear plan – the axe handle is a ‘shotgun shack’ where you can see right through the house from end to end. The axe blade is the garage and workshop.

The timber floor is elevated above the ground to establish a separation between house and vineyard. This establishes an engagement with the outdoors and landscape, but from an architectural vantage point.

What is most unusual about the house however is its restraint. This house reflects the client’s desire for modesty, simplicity, calmness. A peaceful place to live. Yet it is also about clarity, control and refinement.

This project does not attempt to be innovative tectonically. Nor does it have ambition to be formally innovative or break new ground. Its about avoidance of show. Rather it is an exercise in aesthetic and financial restraint - doing less not more.

We have attempted to create a house with authenticity and beauty. Care, attention and energy has been put into detail, proportions, composition and space.