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Coastal connections

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this house by Richard Middleton opens up to the seaside views


Reasons for building afresh on the site of your existing home often include a love of the local area and landscape – factors that are likely to influence the new design.

For this project, a sense of place was important to the client, who had lived on the coastal property for many years. He wanted the new house to enhance the experience of the site and its aspect to the water, and at the same time offer a modern reflection on classic coastal designs, says architect Richard Middleton.

"In response, we designed the house as a series of compositional built forms, maintaining privacy from the street and neighbouring properties, while creating a focus towards the harbour entrance and island beyond. The structure consists of a run of simple boxes oriented in a logical and coherent rhythm along the main axis of the topography.

"The walls on the street side of the house are predominantly solid. However, beyond this facade, solidity gives way to transparency in the living spaces, which then open up to the beach and scenery."

The architectural forms are simple, reflecting the owner's sense of connection to the local area and landscape.


"Our intention for this design was to reference the vernacular of the original coastal dwellings and baches in the area. Classic gabled roof forms, a modern, flat version of classic shiplap cladding and crafted timber all contribute to the honest feel of the house,"says Middleton.

The sense of place is brought indoors, too. Exposed rafters run out to the eaves, the beams and beadboard ceilings again contributing to the aesthetic, whereby the structure is expressed in the design.

The interiors are laid out to optimise both views and social interaction. Day-to-day living is accommodated in the primary two-storey form, with open-plan living on the ground floor and the main bedroom area directly above.

A contemporary interior touch is the use of pocket sliders to divide the open-plan living spaces and also to section off the upstairs bedroom from the stairwell.

While living areas and the master bedroom are trained on the views, other architectural stratagems direct the eye. For example, the master bathroom has an angled bay widow that looks two ways but not straight ahead to a nearby house.

Additional bedrooms in the home are set further back, offering sheltered, restful areas removed from the open-plan spaces.

Passive solar design and other green principles were incorporated – the house has solar hot water heating and double glazing, and sustainable materials were used wherever possible.

First published date: 06 October 2013

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Credit List

Refrigeration Fisher & Paykel, from Kitchen Things
Bathroom vanity Rigg-Zschokke, Trethewey Stone
Basin Robertson from Zip Plumbing
Awards NZIA Regional Award 2012
Architect Richard Middleton NZIA, Novak+Middleton (Wellington)
Builder Custom Homes
Kitchen designer & supplier Sandra Banks, Kitchens on Thorndon
Cladding Cedar from Crichton Timber
Roofing Copper Eurotray from ARFI
Flooring Engineered European oak
Doors and windows Cedar, from Rigg-Zschokke
Window and door hardware Architectural Hardware
Drapes The Cotton Store
Furniture Collin Bell from Corso de Fiori
Benchtops Trethewey Stone
Splashback Signwise
Oven, cooktop, microwave, dishwasher Bosch, available from Kitchen Things