Built on a steep site, this new house at Langs Beach north of Auckland has been designed to capture views of sea and native bush.
This project was also an opportunity to consider how to build in a coastal, suburban location, where recent, frenzied forms of settlement often seem at odds with the scale and extraordinary beauty of their natural settings.
The house responds to these conflicting contexts by operating at a range of scales. Close up, the mix of materials helps to break down the mass of the building. From further afield, the simple strong roofline helps the form to read clearly whilst tones and textures are those you might find on the beach.
A split level plan addresses the client’s brief to provide private accommodation for guests (the main living floor separates lower bedrooms from a ‘crow’s nest’ master suite) and allows the house to step lightly down the slope. Terraces on either side of the main floor provide complimentary spaces for outdoor living with at least one space being sheltered in most wind conditions.
Inside, varying volumes and well placed windows imbue each space with its own character and provide different vistas and perspectives as you move through the house.
Who are the clients and what's interesting about them?
The client had always maintained that this would be a weekend and holiday house to complement a more more compact city pad. About 3 weeks out from completion a change in career path came with the decision to make this house a permanent abode. Fortunately it works just as wells as a primary residence!
What was the brief?
The brief was to design a weekend house for a client who liked to be by the beach but not necessarily at the beach in an active way. The house needed to be flexible enough to accommodate guests, particularly in summer, but operate just as well (and not feel too large) if the client is there by herself. As the client tends to host larger groups in summer, the deck spaces were envisaged very much as outdoor rooms, the eastern deck in particular (which captures north sun) operates as an extension of the kitchen. This sort of flexibility allows the house to expand to cater for larger groups with ease. Finally the site is set back from the beach but we had an inkling the views would be panoramic if we could get the living areas high enough. The hunch was right and the house enjoys not only beautiful sea vistas but also outlook to bush clad hills too.
What were the key challenges?
The site is very steep which posed challenges not just for construction but also for the ongoing maintenance of the house. We clad the areas of the exterior that would need scaffolding to maintain in pre-painted corrugate whilst all the areas that can be reached easily (and which you come into contact with) are clad in warmer more tactile materials - e.g. shiplap cedar lines the Western alcove deck (the cocktail deck) whilst the eastern deck is protected by a honed concrete block wall.