Colin McCahon was one of New Zealands premier 20th century painters. This artist's residency is located on the site adjacent to the cottage in which the McCahon family lived with his family and painted during a seminal period of his career in the 1950's. It accommodates national and international recipients of scholarships and operates in conjunction with a museum in the original cottage. The new building is designed in two parts, one containing the studio and the other the residence. Its complex form is carefully designed to sit between the many trees (mainly kauri) on the site, which are especially significant given the role they played in the paintings McCahon produced in his shift towards abstraction.
The residence nestles against the land, while the studio towers amongst the trees on light steel framing. The structure is carefully designed to minimise interference to trees and site.