House of the week: Oakura

Last updated 05:00 13/03/2013

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A long-admired beach-front site in Oakura was bought by a pair of siblings - Catherine and Kevin - with the thought of removing the old and building a new. Creating a beach house to be shared by both of their families, a gathering point to enable the next generations to enjoy typical kiwi summer beach life.

Tasked with the new build was architectural graduate Shaun Murphy of New Plymouth architects Boon Goldsmith Bhaskar Brebner, who worked under the watchful eye of director Murali Bashkar. 

Before the original beach bach was relocated, the whole family's thoughts on the house were recorded in a notebook, a wishlist of sorts. The predominant want was for a low-key, modest structure that suited its environment. 

The solution was an exterior cladding of cedar, plywood and macrocarpa in a contemporary style. Plus, plenty of glass and exterior cedar slats enable a street level view through the house straight to the sea. This also means the sea remains a part of the street, as the build doesn't obscure the view; the structure becomes an active medium, with the view passing straight through it.

"The living and sleeping spaces form two boxes plugging into one another, reducing the overall bulk of the structure," says Shaun of his design. "The horizontal forms and cantilevered first floor structures further add to a reduction of scale and visual weight by expressing horizontality."

The interior has bamboo flooring with plywood, white painted walls and ceilings."The use of bamboo flooring was particularly important," says Shaun. "The clients wanted to use timber where possible to enhance the 'beach house' aesthetic, so we offered them a hard-wearing, sustainable solution."

The build relies solely on passive heating, and Kevin is optimistic that with double glazing and clever use of materials the beach house will retain heat and provide for comfortable living even in the winter.

For Catherine, ever practical in her management of whanau gatherings, a decent clothesline was a priority. And Shaun has delivered, the line is often filled with togs and towels, showing the structure is truly being used in the way intended - as a joy-filled family bach. 


Architect: Shaun Murphy, graduate architect at Boon Goldsmith Bhaskar Brebner Team Architects, New Plymouth.

Builder: Chris Bell, Chris Bell Construction

Size: 140 square metres 

Materials: Cedar, plywood, marcocapa, steel, glass, concrete

Energy efficiency: Thermally broken double-glazed windows/doors; passive heating and ventilation through design orientation to maximise solar gain.

Done right: 'The design of the house captures the stunning views and completely answers our client brief, more so than we could have possibly imagined.'

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Done wrong: 'Nothing. We love it.' 

Unexpected: 'The internal courtyard works as a beautiful sheltered space, it has completely exceeded our expectations.' 

Recommend: 'Employing an architect to guide you throughout the process: from understanding our specific requirements to forming a design, managing the construction process, relieving all stresses and delivering a quality outcome.' 

Next time: 'We would definitely use Boon Goldsmith Bhaskar Brebner Team Architects and builder Chris Bell of Chris Bell Construction again.'

- © Fairfax NZ News


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