The core to a smart home is smart design

Article by Homes to Love

With ANZ, Homes to Love is exploring the ways we live now, under the theme of ‘Smart’ – and how this trend allows us to live and build today

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ANZ, designs for living, smart living

Te Kohanga; the home of Brian and Sally McKibbin, designed by architect Wendy Shacklock. Photograph by Samuel Hartnett.


Houses are getting smarter. Even those built a decade ago lack the technical innovation of new homes today. Brian and Sally McKibbin’s Waiheke home is one of these new smart builds. Designed by architect Wendy Shacklock, the house sits on the edge of a vertiginous cliff at Oneroa, which goes part of the way to explaining its name – Te Kohanga, the Maori word for nest. Like a nest, the house is a cosy retreat protecting against the elements, but it also acts as a dynamic social hub with the potential to accommodate large groups.

ANZ, designs for living, smart living

Shacklock built a sturdy textured concrete wall over the house’s southern face to protect against cold south-westerly winds.


There is a strong sense of spatial flow in Shacklock’s design that helps to balance out the different spaces. The private rooms (two bedrooms and a third room that functions as a media room, as well as a spare room or office) are anchored to the home’s sturdy concrete southern wall, while the living and dining room extend out towards the cliff edge. Here Shacklock puts you directly in the view, with a dining area that cantilevers out to the sea. The house is highly adaptable – it allows you the adventure of being on a cliff-edge but also works well as a retreat. This is a testament to the smart design of the house, which is both enduring and able to be adapted to the needs of the family.

ANZ, designs for living, smart living

ANZ, designs for living, smart living

The dining area that cantilevers out to the sea – it allows you the adventure of being on a cliff-edge but also works well as a retreat to accommodate large groups when necessary.


Shacklock could not have achieved this without clever geo-tech and precise engineering – two components that play an important part in smart design. The dining area that cantilevers off to the sea is one such example, but there was also a lot of groundwork that went into preparing the site. Before building the house, Shacklock prepared the land by slicing a metre off the section to get it under the height-to-boundary rules and then had concrete piles sunk below the earth in order to secure the house.

The use of technology within the Te Kohanga house plays a key role in Shacklock’s design, blending in seamlessly with the other design features. A home entertainment system in the media room is concealed behind cupboard doors that match the beautiful black lacquered wood of the house’s interior walls. Other cleverly concealed details include a built-in speaker system, an electric cupboard by the front entrance and soft-closing cabinetry in the kitchen.

ANZ, designs for living, smart living

ANZ, designs for living, smart living

There is built-in technology throughout the house, often ‘smartly’ concealed behind cabinets and cupboards. In the media room, a pull-down projection screen allows the space to function as an entertainment room, a study or as a guestroom.


Te Kohanga is not overloaded with gadgets, like the rest of Shacklock’s design, technology has been used where appropriate to fit with the current and future needs of the family. After all, at the core of any smart home is smart design.

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Designs for living

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