House of the week: Raumati Beach

Last updated 10:08 31/10/2012
Beach House - Standard
The views out to Kapiti are stunning.

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Maximising both views and privacy were the twin challenges involved in creating this light, resilient and compact home on the sand dunes of Raumati Beach.

Wellington architects Geoff Fletcher and Carolyn Walker were asked "to create a discreet and private low-rise small beach house, additional to the existing bach on the site, which maximised great views, sun and outdoor living with entertainment of guests as a priority."

From the beach, the glass and cedar enclosure looks like a shuttered box hut but the house has been designed to endure coastal storms and make the most of the sea views.

The design is a glass and cedar enclosure revealing to passers-by on the beach a shuttered box but simultaneously a build suited to maximise and endure coastal storms.

The architects say using an inverse hip roof and glazed entry porch has created a welcoming feel to the build. The east-facing entry porch is an excellent morning spot, while the cantilevered beam and glass roof adds excitement.

"From the outside the roof line appears flat but on the inside the inverse hip design 'reveals itself', resulting in an intimate space," Fletcher says.

Both architects say recognition should also go to engineers Dunning Thornton "for their great timber engineering" that helped in the style, effect and ultimately huge success of the build.

The cedar exterior cladding has been chosen specifically to silver off, so it blends with the dunes and plantings of flax. In a delicate balance between privacy, sun and views, vertical timber slat screens have been used along the west, beach side of the house, enabling control of heat in the summer and a fascinating play of light on the inside.

"The screens are adjustable to privacy requirements, able to be retracted to reveal the views or to fully cloak the glass wall behind," Walker says.

"The interior is quiet and calm - a foil to the view."

But that internal peace belies the sweat and effort by builder Nick Robbers and his team from Haarlem Developments to meet the deadline. "We had just 10 weeks to build the house, that was the initial contract and we lost one week on weather, so while it wasn't a massive house it was tricky," Robbers says.

The ratio of windows and glass to walls made the build especially challenging, Robbers says. "Usually you have more walls than windows but in this there was a lot of glass with not much wall and the cantilevered roof was interesting." 

He says the simplicity of design is what makes the Raumati beach house elegant without being opulent. "It's your quintessential bach. It doesn't have all the trimmings of home but you don't feel you are missing out on anything either." 

Geoff Fletcher's professional colleagues concurred with Robbers praise of the design. The 70 square metre build won a New Zealand Institute of Architecture Award in the Small Project Category. 

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Judges praised the house for being "a building reduced to its essence" and said it was testament to the virtue of sufficiency.

"Simple and pleasurable, it has everything one needs, and no more. Perched on its wooden piles, and cleverly engineered, the house offers comfort on the inside - the warm bathroom is especially welcome - and two enjoyable spaces on the outside. The bright light from the western sun is well controlled, the palette of materials and colours, especially the bleached ply and light blues, compliments the site, and the building has a high degree of adjustability and responsiveness. Occupying it one feels immersed in the coastal environment."


Build cost: $210,000

Architect: Geoff Fletcher Architects

Build size: 70 sq m plus decks.

Materials: Ply exterior, timber slat shutters, ply lined interior.

Energy efficiency: Double glazing, water collection, shutters for heat control.

Done right: Fantastic contactor, innovative engineering.

Done wrong: Needs shading to north.

Unexpected: The surprise and delight of coming through the gate to find yourself in a quiet garden oasis.

Recommend: Plywood interior is very successful.

Next time: Bit more enclosure of outdoor spaces (however, this would add to budget).


- © Fairfax NZ News


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