Torea Studio

This small rural studio for work and business meetings is the architect’s evocative response to an appealing wild-life resident.


A meeting space, study and guest accommodation, this rural studio is an eloquent representation of two water fowl, walking to the water’s edge of the Waimea Estuary. At high tide the birds rest on the sand and shell banks near the water’s edge, never venturing to far from the shore. Lygia Clark’s Bicho ‘Critter’ was another inspiration for the design, a sculpture that has no front or back, inside or outside, left or right. The viewer can fold, close and open Bicho, exploring its multifaceted nature. Designed this way the work of art is not the viewing of the sculpture but rather one’s participation with it. The brief was for a study and guesthouse 200 metres from the main Torea house. In contrast to the main house the client was interested in creating a more expressive building in the landscape. The finished design references the pair of ‘birds’ and their tent like habitation.


Deceptively simple, the project showcases how raw materials can translate into a rich warm space that enhances its natural landscape without detracting from it. Zinc cladded ‘folded’ CLT panels create protected outdoor spaces beneath the ‘wings’ while providing a sense of sanctuary to the rest of the building. The interior is comprised of simple rooms containing exposed CLT finished with a luxurious Java Oil that finishes the panels with a warm honey glow. Generous angular windows fill the spaces with light and provide ever changing views of the striking scenery outside giving the studio a sense of united indoor outdoor living.  An outdoor terrace hedged by local fieldstone adds a textural contrast to the sleek zinc casing of the property.


The folds enhance the structure by creating geometric depth and arching effects, increasing the strength and stiffness beyond individual rectilinear panels. All exposed panel surfaces were selected premium visual grade timber, much like a fingerprint no two panels are the same. There is no interior edge trim to the exposed panels leaving a cleaner finish and unaltering the visual impact. High tensile engineering screws were partially threaded into the bottom edge of the panels to align with pre-formed holes in the concrete floor slab. As panels are lowered into position, with waterproof grout placed around the screws to secure the fixing. The panels are joined with large woodscrews which allowed the CLT shell structure to be assembled in only 3 days. These efficiencies also created opportunities for reduced material use.


Awarded the 2016 NZIA Branch Award, the jurors labelled Torea Studio as ‘a joy to visit and a stimulating work environment’. The success of Torea Studio comes from its innovative design made possible through sophisticated machinery that allows such clean precise cutting.

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