Compact bach a design winner

By John Cousins

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Transforming a 40ft shipping container into a cosy cedar-clad bach emerged a winner for Tauranga architectural designer Cam Cotton.

The clever and eco-conscious CUBA was a hit with the judges at the Architectural Designers New Zealand's Bay of Plenty regional awards on Saturday.

Mr Cotton scored a double at the Resene-sponsored awards, with his CUBA winning the residential compact category for homes up to 150sq m. His other entry, the Orkney Rd house designed for Frans and Miriam Taris, won the best residential home between 150sq m and 300 sq m.

The CUBA is one of eight residential and commercial designs based on new and used 20ft and 40ft containers that he converted in his factory at the Mount. The winning design featured an open-plan living area with two bedrooms, a kitchen and laundry, wrapped inside a cedar-clad container with black powder coated aluminium joinery and tinted green glass.

Judges Caterina Steiner, Tony van Raat and Duncan Joiner said they were pleased to see a house that addressed the needs of transportability and affordability.

"It is a simple and elegant solution that provides a good standard of housing to a single person or a couple."

The design stood out from others because of the CUBA's thermal performance. The judges also praised the CUBA for being direct, simple and easy to live in.

Mr Cotton said business was picking up since he launched the range of container offices and homes 18 months ago and he now had enough orders to keep him busy to the end of the year. Although the CUBA was a little bit more expensive than a comparative conventional wooden-framed home, its big cost saving advantage was that it was ideal for difficult sites. He was also able to fabricate it and transport it anywhere in the country.

His design skills were built on a comprehensive knowledge working in the building industry for eight years in England and France. His container buildings also won him commercial design honours in the Architectural Designers' Auckland competition.

The Taris House, also clad in red cedar, used expansive glass panes for a year-round indoors/outdoors connection. Judges noted that natural light flooded the house during the day while at night spectacular lighting created a different ambience.

They said the design played with some modernist planning and cross-sections made famous by Le Corbusier and it was a delight to see them replicated in 21st Century New Zealand.

Mr Cotton said the big thing was that his clients did not compromise on anything, starting with the concept and going right through to the finer details.

Meanwhile, another Tauranga architectural designer Brendan Gordon has continued his winning way in successive competitions, this time picking up the top award for the over 300sq m home.

The Muntendam Residence on a rural site in the Papamoa Hills was a simple structure wrapped in Hebel concrete panels and cedar weatherboard. Judges said its simple linear plan expressed as three exterior pavilions had an "honest architectural language" that sat well into the landscape. The national finals take place on September 27 in Dunedin.

The Bay's award-winning architectural designers

  • Cam Cotton - best compact new home and best new home 150-300sq m.

  • Brendon Gordon - best new home over 300sq m.

  • Maurice Regeer - best residential interior and colour in design (Bellevue Residence).

  • Will Tatton - best alterations and additions (Seahorse Boathouse Apartment).

- Bay of Plenty Times

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