Beach House - Malcolm Taylor Architects | ArchiPro

Beach House

Both lovers of the ocean, the clients of this build relished childhood memories of summer holidays spent boating in the Bay of Islands but with 8 grandchildren to accommodate, needs must. They swapped the berth for the earth and bought a section in Russell where they could moor their trawler hull at the edge of the lawn.

This historic property came with two dwellings, a prefab cottage up the hillside and a 50s bach, located closer to the sea.

“The houses were quaint but uninhabitable with rats in the walls, fireplaces that leaked and no insulation so that often during the day it was hotter inside than out.”

Happily help was at hand. The couple commissioned their son in law, architect Malcolm Taylor of Xsite Architecture, to design them an escape where the extended family could come and make memories to fill up the photo albums.

The light-filled beach house and its attendant ‘love shack’ up the hill are, essentially, major renovations.

“We had to stick to the original footprint in order to retain the bulk and proximity to the foreshore both of which don’t comply with the current district plan,” explains Malcolm.

By cleverly rearranging the layout, eliminating hallways and bringing the master bedroom onto the ground floor, Malcolm achieved a highly efficient use of space. On the second level, a bunk room that sleeps four comes complete with portholes. “The bottom bunks get the porthole view so there’s no fighting for the top bunk in this house,” says Brenda. A separate lounge room and kitchenette means the “mayhem” can be restricted upstairs allowing adults privacy and sanctuary below.

A U-shaped plan contains the outdoor north-facing deck to give it shelter from the wind while a louvred roof system overhead offers sun and rain protection. 

“I wanted a kitchen that all the family could be in at once so everyone could help themselves and help out,” says this savvy grandmother. For this reason, she opted for plenty of open shelves. “That’s a bit like a restaurant,” Brenda explains. “You can instantly know where things are.”  

A shugg window leads from here to a countertop so that kids in wet togs can pull up a stool and eat lunch without traipsing indoors.

The high stud, mono-pitched roof, clerestory glazing, and a skylight in the stairwell means the home is flooded with light despite the shade-making macrocarpa tree on the adjacent reserve. “Still it’s a good place to hang a swing and the reserve is a fabulous borrowed landscape,” laughs Brenda.

Banks of louvres flush the air through the building and, rather like trimming a yacht, can be articulated to react to the prevailing conditions.

A picture window in the stairwell is multi-purpose: it stops heat escaping to the upper level in winter and often frames a view of boats at anchor.​​​​​​​

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