Home of the year

How 3 celebrated beach houses make the most of their views

Article by Home Magazine

Featuring in Home of the Year over the past decade, this collection of beach homes is an example of New Zealand architecture at its best

In recent years, the size and scale of what we build at the beach might have changed – designs are bigger and more complex – but the spirit of earlier, more humble buildings remains. There’s a casualness to houses by the beach – a need to engage with the elements, the sun and sea.

Homes on the coast have always featured prominently in Home of the Year and in recent years we’ve celebrated these with the ‘Best Retreat’ award, which recognises the particular challenges and joys of building at the beach.

Altherm has particular expertise in this area, and is well known for producing windows and doors that take advantage of spectacular views, while providing superior thermal performance and durability in the rigours of a coastal climate.

The brand’s suite of ranges – including Residential Series, Metro Series and APL Architectural Series – are perfectly suited to the task.

1. Under Pōhutukawa

Herbst Architects
Piha, West Auckland
Home of the Year 2012

After more than a decade of building thoughtful timber dwellings around our coast, it was a spectacular house on the west coast that won Lance and Nicola Herbst Home of the Year for the first time. A design of poetic elegance, the Herbsts have said it was a turning point in their practice: the design represents a perfectly expressed idea. Built in a grove of protected pōhutukawa, the home is at one with the trees.

Two darkly stained boxes containing bedrooms and bathrooms sit at either end of the site, while a glass and steel frame houses living areas, and seems to mimic the surrounding tree boughs. Here, the high-level glazing required a discreet system of minimalist aluminium frames using a variety of Altherm profiles fixed to stainless steel struts with hidden screws – a process that required careful planning and on-site assembly. The effect is sublime, a sort of permanent tent canopy strung in the trees.

Various Altherm ranges in ‘Black anodised’ by Alitech.

2. Te Kohanga

Wendy Shacklock Architects
with Paul Clarke
Waiheke Island, Auckland
Finalist 2014

Perched on a cliff above the ocean at Oneroa on Waiheke Island, ‘Te Kohanga’ means nest – a nod to the precarious nature of the site. Presented with an almost overwhelming view over the Hauraki Gulf, Shacklock broke the house down, hanging it off a long, poured-concrete wall that acts as a sort of axis, dividing public and private spaces.

Public spaces look to the ocean through carefully placed windows, while private spaces open onto sheltered courtyards and views of nearby bays. The timber-lined ceiling, meanwhile, floats above large clerestory windows that draw in light and views.

APL Architectural Series in ‘Black anodised’ by Altherm West

3. Offset Shed House

Irving Smith Architects
Makorori Beach, Gisborne
Finalist 2015

Designed for mad-keen surfers on a tricky coastal site near Gisborne, the ‘Offset Shed House’ by Jeremy Smith took familiar, prosaic materials – concrete, corrugate, timber – and arranged them in delightful ways. Working with a small budget, Smith created three loose ‘sheds’ around a sheltered courtyard, each containing different functions.

The home looks out over Makorori Beach, where locals play cricket on the reserve and surf the famous break. With the sun located in the other direction, behind the hill, generous expanses of north-facing glass and high-level windows bring in the light, while picture windows and daybeds allow occupants to take in the view.

Altherm Residential Series in Duratec ‘Matt Black’


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