Melling:Morse Architects Ltd - Split Box

Melling:Morse Architects Ltd

Split Box

(Un-)divided attention - Melling:Morse have created seaside loft style living, which sits as lightly as possible, near remote Kennedy bay, New Zealand.

The Split Box residence in Tuateawa Bay, Coromandel, New Zealand adapts the traditional bach materials, wood and corrugated iron into a spectacular two storey loft. The forward glazing and open planned layout, wouldn't look out of place in a down town Wellington penthouse. Yet here, the expanses allow undivided attention to the beach and are used to passively heat the concrete slab, which releases it's warmth in the evening. To compensate in mid summer, slat windows at the bottom and top of the glass expanses produce a cooling airflow.

Renewable and low impact materials are used and the holiday home is a perfect combination of form and function. Above it's architectural and aesthetic functions, the split divides the house into cosy, functional parcels of: living and dining downstairs; and sleeping and bathing above. It also aids in a vital task of collecting rainwater in the remote setting.
Predominantly used by a couple, with occasional visitors camping nearby, the open plan nature of the house allows maximum sunrise views, from every room.
Simple, uncluttered and functional design are the signature - beauty, the result.

Here is Gerald Melling's take on the design of the Split Box.

The Coromandel is a sub-tropical peninsular on the north-west coast of the North Island of New Zealand, an idyllic and remote region offering welcome holiday refuge from the urban stress of Auckland city. The Split Box is a permanently constructed commitment to a site hitherto inhabited only by two caravans and a storage shed. Its location is quintessential Kiwi Paradise - a hilltop on the edge of a coastline.
A desire to actively acknowledge the sea is combined with the need to harvest a water supply - the building is thus clinically cleaved down its middle, a negotiable crack in a rock.

Aligned alongside an enormous Pohutakawa tree, the five-metre high box is made up of two halves, each with a retreated mezzanine. To one side of the ‘split’ a dining area/kitchen is overlooked by the bedroom; to the other, a sitting room /‘snug’ supports an open bathroom.
The ‘split’ defines the circulation route from land to sea. At ground level, it bisects the concrete slab with a timber ribbon stretched across the grass towards the lip of the cliff; at mezzanine level, it bridges the upper void of the box to a deck reaching for the sunrise; and at roof level, it cascades its rainwater down a chute to a tank tucked into a bank below the road.
The 90 sq.m. box is fully glazed on three of its sides - north, east and south - and at the two ends of its western face, which is otherwise clad in vertical, black corrugated Onduline.

Timber is Macrocarpa (an environmentally friendly species which does not require toxic treatment) rough-sawn externally and left to naturally weather, dressed and oiled internally.
The original caravans remain - as, of course, they should - as guestrooms.

Many thanks to Gerald and Allan for these fantastic freehand sketches!

Architects: Melling:Morse Architects Ltd
Completed: 2006
Materials: Macrocarpa, Glass and Onduline
Google maps: Satellite

More about Melling:Morse
A practice that embraces wooden construction and creates masterpieces in timber, Melling:Morse are more recently known for impressive "infill" structures such as their Wedge house and Cliffhanger residence.

The Wedge


Gerald's own residence, the Skybox, is a three storey studio that takes the live-work-play notion to the extreme. It sits beautifully, like a well aged barnacle, on a building in down town Wellington.

The Skybox

via: Melling:Morse Architects Ltd