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Brake House by Ron Sang

Yesterday I had the rare chance to tour the famous Brake House in Titirangi thanks to the Auckland Architecture Association. Designed by architect Ron Sang, a prominent Chinese New Zealander, the house was completed in 1976, before leaky building syndromes and building regulation reforms. The elegance of the house in Titirangi's signature wild naturesque landscape reminded many of American designs like Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater House.

Immediately upon entering the house, you felt the sense of attention to detail that encompassed the architecture of that period. The platform leading into the house had a precarious edginess to it. Eventually we figured it out - a lack of our standardised contemporary handrails. Any such feature (your usual 1m high, grabbable railing) would have destroyed the elegance of the design entirely.

Originally designed for Brian Brake, one of New Zealand's most famous photographers, the house includes a studio, dark room, cinema downstairs as well as plenty of glazing and platforms. As a Japanophile, Brake requested a tatami room (this is the glass box floating out into the bushes, shown above).

Incredible reflections all throughout the house, merging nature and architecture.

Brake House by Ron Sang

The architect Ron Sang came and gave us an intimate insight to the making of this house.
Visiting this house is such an inspiration, but as Ron Sang said, there is no way such a house can be built as it is now because of the many regulatory constraints. Back in the 70s, this building only needed 20 A1 sheets to document it - these days you would need at least 100 sheets marking the incredible change that the architectural profession has had over the years. The fusion of Asian and American design in the woodiness of Titirangi is an incredible feat though and, for those who afford it, it is currently up for sale.


  1. Stuning! I'd want to live there

  2. Wish all NZ architecture had this sort of style!

  3. Outstanding imagination to produce this a touch genius thanks Mr Sang

    1. Absolutely, such an amazing place, suited to the site.


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