Whale Bay

Kerikeri, N/A / New Zealand

Whale Bay is designed with a simple, flexible, sustainable building system that is adaptable to a broad range of different climates and terrains. This architectural solution sits lightly on the land, with cantilevered floors that minimize site disruption. A distinctive connection to nature is achieved by dissolving the division of interior and exterior space. Located on a ridge overlooking Whale Bay in Kerikeri, New Zealand, the site falls in three directions and is bordered by cattle and sheep stations giving complete privacy and unobstructed views. Whale Bay’s modular prefabricated architectural system is based on a three dimensional structural grid consisting of a 7’ x 7’ horizontal module, a 1’-3” vertical module, and a 21’ x 21’ structural bay. All structural and building components are designed and standardized to this 3D grid. The exposed structure consists of a simple set of standardized components much like an “erector set” of beams, columns, connectors, and plates that are assembled into components in the shop and sequentially transported to the jobsite for erection. The floor and roof plates are constructed with nine individual 10 gauge press-formed panels bolted together to span the 7’ x 7’ module. Glazing, fascia, vertical screens, case work, wall panels, plumbing, electrical wiring, ductwork, insulation, stairs, and handrail are all designed in accordance to the 3D grid and incorporated into the structure, thereby allowing automated fabrication with precise and efficient construction. Nature is integrated into the building through the structure and the building envelope, comprised completely of Low-E UV protected laminated glass with a heat reflective coating. The glass acts as a canvas for nature’s reflections of both color and texture. Adjustable vertical modular sunscreens create privacy and shading for the interior spaces while filtering light through 3/8” perforations on 10 gauge press-formed slats.

Architect of Record

Optima DCHGlobal, Inc.


David and Eileen Hovey

General Contractor

Optima DCHGlobal, Inc.


  • Bell Construction Ltd.
  • Rudolphs Limited
  • Opus International Consultants Ltd.