The Nest: Shelter and Views - Edwards White Architects | ArchiPro

The Nest: Shelter and Views

On an exposed hilltop section in Whitianga, Edwards White Architects designed a house with an external living space that would take in the views while providing much needed shelter.

The beauty of a home on an elevated site overlooking the ocean is unparalleled and yet, in almost every case, it comes with an obvious downside: exposure to the elements.

Often this isn’t mitigated in the design—scores of oceanside baches have decks jutting out towards the sea, with their occupants bravely bearing the cold and wind to enjoy the sea view outdoors.

But in this Whitianga seaside abode, Edwards White Architects’ Daniel Smith took extra care in addressing this common pitfall.

The house site is carefully located as close as possible to the sea view, but the design is conceived so that visitors can enjoy the views without catching a cold.

“The key challenge of the site was that it is so exposed, so it was essential to make sure that we made spaces where you could pull away from the elements, but still keep that view unobstructed,” says Daniel.

The site has particularly beautiful views of the sea to the east and views of bushland to the west, so the solution was an arrangement of three pods: one has two bedrooms and ensuite; a second has a bedroom and a bunkroom; and the third is the main living space with kitchen, dining, main bathroom and laundry.

The three pods are arranged to accommodate a recessed sheltered external decking space that can be used year-round as an internal/external living space.

The roof line sits across all three pods and outdoor living area, with clear corrugated roofing above the deck space to let in light and sun.

The line of the sun throughout the day was given a lot of consideration, says Daniel. The house was orientated not only to take in the view, but so that the front deck is in sun in the morning and when the sun comes around the entry area it can also be used as an outdoor space.

At the end of the day when the sun is in the western corner, there’s a private external space that can be used to entertain.

“It’s kind of like a pinwheel plan: you can utilise the sun as it comes around, right throughout the day.”

The internal cedar ceiling shades from the harsh midday sun, but there’s dappled light coming into the external deck space.

Because it faces east, the roof was pitched up to get the evening sun into the internal space, and to further enable light into the living pod there’s clear glazing running right up to the top of the ceiling.

Additionally, external cedar screens slide across to provide extra shade or privacy when needed.

The simplicity of all of this content sitting under one roofline sits well with bach typology, says Daniel.

“It’s really low key, it’s informal. As you arrive, you’re just stepping onto the deck and slipping into that covered outdoor area.”

Running the decking right through the entry out to the covered deck speaks to that uncomplicated Kiwi bach vernacular.

The deck has been caulked to avoid an underfloor breeze and the materiality of the interior is warm and authentic. Blonded Ashen wood panelling was chosen for its crafted feel, and the builder client Nick Gill from Cove Construction ensured seamless workmanship.

Client Hollie Gill from detailed the interior fit out and the result is pared-back spaces in tactile materials that fit well in the beachside setting.

The exterior materiality plays with dark and light elements. The vertical ship-lapped cedar cladding on the pods is stained to a charcoal hue.

“These darker elements recess and sit within the one form, and the perimeter beams run around and encapsulate the whole building, with the cedar screens running in between them.”

The cohesiveness of the three pods unified in this way gives the dwelling a simple, yet refined look, and yet the sophisticated detailing belies the simplicity of the build.

“It’s a reasonably conventional house in that sense, but it’s the details where the money has been spent.”

Words by Joanna Jefferies
Photography by Fern Vision and Erica Kurth Photography

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