May 22, 2024

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A New Zealand Beach Home Waves Back at Its Surrounding Dunescape

A New Zealand Beach Home Waves Back at Its Surrounding Dunescape

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Project Details:

Location: East Coast, New Zealand

Architect: Herbst Architects / @herbstarchitects

Footprint: 3,035 square feet

General Contractor: Steve Haycock Construction Ltd

Structural Engineer: Sullivan Hall Chartered Engineers

Landscape Design: Second Nature

Cabinetry Design: Neil Taylor Cabinetmaker & Design

Photographer: Simon Wilson / @simon.c.wilson

From the Architect: The site is a large dunescape carpeted with Muehlenbeckia, which undulates and rolls southwest to northeast down to a long East Coast beach. Planning restrictions stipulated a 200-meter setback from the high-water mark. The brief called for a main house with two bedrooms and two smaller structures for sleeping.

“The qualities of the site are singular: softly undulating land and a very strong, uninterrupted horizon line drawn by the ocean against the sky.

“Our concept emerges from these two singularities. A simple rectilinear form is sheathed in a light rain screen of timber battens. The top edge of the rain screen is sharply cut to introduce a strong horizontal line reflecting the horizon and delineating the built form. The underside of the rain screen is cut into soft curves which mirror the surrounding dunes and soften the form in the landscape. The rain screen describes a platform onto which the house functions are arranged.

“In terms of siting, the buildable area along the 200-meter setback line was in a depression in the dunes. The view of the ocean, however, was established to be best at the highest that the planning rules would allow. In order to keep as close to the beach as possible, and to maximize the potential view but avoid a double-story structure in the landscape, we constructed the building on stilts, then re-contoured the land around the building to bring the dunes to the new floor level.