As Kiwis, we’re constantly finding ways to carve ourselves into the country’s long and varied coastline. We build homes by sheltered, sandy beaches in the east and greet the sun high on the rugged cliffs of the west. We dream of walking out onto black, iron sand in the north and treading along the rocky shores of the south.
But when you build in such stunning natural locations, you must be aware of certain realities. As Julian Mitchell of Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects explains, coastal architecture is an exercise in finding balance between appreciating the natural elements and protecting yourself from them.
“Building on the coast is all about enjoying the warmth of the sun while sheltering yourself from excessive sun. It’s about enjoying the breeze while sheltering yourself from extreme winds.”
Over the years, Mitchell Stout Dodd has designed several of New Zealand’s most impressive coastal homes, including their Waiheke Island House, the 2009 HOME Magazine Home of the Year. Their projects have a distinct relationship with their surroundings - one that is both effortless and shielded.
“You really have to start from the ground up, taking a good look at the soil engineering. Ideally, you’ll be working with a section that’s raised above the actual sea. Working with a geotech engineer who can consider the risk of flooding is essential,” explains Julian.