Scarlet Architects 2 Hot Water Beach House

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Lindley Naismith
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Mike Dowsett
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Member
    Philip Guan


Project Description

Underpinning this design is our client’s requirement that their new beach house be responsive to flexible occupancy and variable use by multiple generations of their family.

Located on a corner as the road bends uphill, the unusual quadrant-shaped site enjoys an elevated, front row position, with a northerly aspect and grandstand views up the beach and out to Mercury Bay.

An original house on the property was occupied continuously over the summer months by the water-sport-mad family. The 3 children - now grown up - were visiting as adults, accompanied by increasing numbers of their own spouses and children, and the house struggled to cope.
In the end a new house proved the most sustainable option. Everything was required to be under one roof, with an emphasis on outdoor living, and main domestic functions on a single primary level, with direct access from the car.

The house adopts a courtyard form, with an open middle, and enclosing ‘wings’, of which only the ends present to the view. The circulation device is a loop and connections to bedrooms are external, via verandas.

A small, sheltered, covered veranda was a much-valued feature of the original house. It is reincarnated in an expanded version, as an important element of the new house, defining the seaward side of the courtyard, and linking the wings. In behind, the courtyard brings the lawn from the periphery to the centre, providing a secure, sheltered space for play. The provision of generous and connected spaces for social and recreational activities was another key aspect of the brief.

Much family activity revolves around the comings and goings associated with marine recreation. This has a focus in the forecourt, which has a strong two-way relationship with the veranda overlooking it. A secure entrance and a stair links the two. The veranda in turn links the activities occurring inside and outside the house at courtyard level, with those happening on the forecourt below.

Given the variable occupancy, the house was required to expand and contract with ease. For the occasions when the extended family is in residence, three bedrooms, accessed directly from the courtyard, are pressed in to use. Otherwise, a ‘studio’ connects separately to the main living spaces, via the veranda along the north side. With its small living area and kitchen facilities, it can be semi self-contained, or provide an alternative living area when the house is full.

Sustainability Statement

Sustainable design principals have shaped this house. It responds to the orientation and physical character of the site and its particular opportunities for lifting the human spirit, thereby enhancing daily life. It exploits opportunities for energy efficiency and employs low impact materials while using high impact materials sparingly. It respects the neighbourhood and the natural landscape, using recessive colours and mass planting of natives downplay to integrate building and surroundings, while minimising the visual impact on public space and the environment.