TV star George Clarke: Kiwis, stop building monsters by the sea

George Clarke says Kiwis need to be careful of how we build beside the sea.

George Clarke says Kiwis need to be careful of how we build beside the sea.

British architect and TV presenter George Clarke says it's a shame to ruin New Zealand's beautiful coastline with monstrous mansions. 

The star of the series George Clarke's Amazing Spaces, whose fifth series airs tonight, says although he "genuinely loved" New Zealand architecture, some of the larger homes built along the coastline didn't always complement the environment.

He made the observations while travelling to New Zealand to film series six of the show.

"I thought, 'Why would someone build something so big and so lumpy against your wonderful coastline?" says Clarke, chatting from his coastal holiday home in Ibiza. When he's not travelling the world filming, Clarke lives in London.    

"This is universal, particularly in the UK where some of the larger scale coastal properties don't blend in as well as they could have done. There are times when I go around England and I'm horrified by the pebble-dash houses with plastic windows against the coast," he says.

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Clarke was impressed by the humble Kiwi bach.

"The smaller the projects were, the better they were, as people were forced to be creative using the space," he says. "You've already got an Amazing Spaces building typology, the small scale humble holiday retreat that isn't pretentious, ostentatious and over the top, built in a simple elegant and straightforward way." 

In series five, Clarke looks at the potential that canals, rivers and coastlines hold for those with small budgets but big imaginations.

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Here are his top five tips on coastal construction:

1. It's got to be sensibly designed in terms of scale and size. Designing big isn't always best. Something small scale, but very clever and inventive, is always going to reduce the impact of the building on the coastline. 

2. Build in the most ecologically sensitive way you possibly can, even more so when you're on the coast.

3. Use local materials and resources. You can still do something contemporary and modern but inspired by materials from the area. That will give you a unique local style.

4. Maximise the views, otherwise what's the point of living by the sea?

5. Work with Mother Nature rather than against Mother Nature.

George Clarke's Amazing Spaces airs tonight at 7.30pm on TV One.


 - Stuff

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