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Million Dollar Views


This week we spoke to Will Lewis of Lewis Architecture - a Professional Member of ADNZ . Will talked to us about his work on Kaimata Retreat - a design with a view to die for - and how he makes the most of views in his designs.

Kaimata Retreat is simply stunning, it's earned Will multiple awards and recognition, including the Colin Stanley People's Choice Memorial Award at the 2014 ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards, which Will says was a huge honour.

One of the most remarkable things about Kaimata Retreat is that it was Will's first independently commissioned design. In fact, he was still a student at the time, in his final year of Architecture School in Auckland.

"Anyone who has studied architecture will know it's pretty much a non-stop full-on schedule. Finding the time to design the retreat on top of study was hard. It was an extraordinarily challenging project to be honest," says Will.

Will was approached to design Kaimata Retreat by the owners - family friends - who had just purchased the land. He was very familiar with the area as his family owned the bach next door. He says the brief had some strong requirements such as using non-toxic materials and having to use macrocarpa timber from the site. Will knew right from the beginning that it was never going to be a "run of the mill" home, and says it was a design he found both challenging and rewarding.

One of the most notable aspects of the design is its stunning view. Will says he has designed several buildings that have required the harnessing of a gorgeous outlook. He says with designs like Kaimata Retreat, it's really important to consider the naturally beautiful surrounds and the way they are going to look from the inside of the building.

"I try and bring the view into the house so you feel like you're in the landscape or even part of that landscape. I want to try and design it so the view becomes part of your everyday life and so that you’re not just admiring it when you go outside," he says.

When he's designing similar homes, Will says he's always thinking about sun angles and the time of the day that different spaces in the house will be used. He says he visits the site in the morning, at midday and in the evening before he begins any design sketches, and that spending a lot of time on a design and its interaction with its surrounds is crucial to the overall product.

With beautiful views also come challenges, and one of the biggest ones is blocking out the unwanted, such as a neighbour close by. Will says the house's orientation often depends on this, and you sometimes have to position the walls, columns and doors so that any unwanted vision gets hidden, while the main view is in focus. With Kaimata Retreat, Will says every part of the building was positioned to maximise visibility of the spectacular views.

"The views are amazing at night. You get the moon coming up over the water and you can see the reflection of the moon and the stars it's pretty special."

Take a look at Will's ADNZ Profile for more info.