This Beach House Like A Boat That Can All Weather


On New Zealand’s vulnerable beach site in a world with a volatile climate, RTA Studio has built an experimental home project called ‘Buckletons Back’. This south facing beach site is only 20 meters from the high tide mark and is located between 2 to 5 meters above sea level with an inland flow path crossing the site which is flooded whenever there is significant rain.

Then the question is, does it make sense to build houses in locations that have the potential for sea level rise and climate change which will bring rain events with increasing intensity and frequency? the end result of this project resulted in an overall composition that is bold yet simple and reminiscent of a boat or an ark floating on the ground.


Adapt the natural environment

The house sits on piles that extend 12 meters into the ground to resist beach erosion from storm inundation, sea level rise or overland flow. This project is not necessarily dependent on static soil conditions. Dry riverbeds have been shaped to control the course of the flow and native vegetation extends the natural landscape as a blanket under the house. Nature can change the coastal environment under the house while the occupation can continue for generations.


Take advantage of existing sites

New Zealand’s coastline is typical with the land often covered with native bush and then opens out onto expanses of ocean. This concept is a challenge in itself to find a house design that is generated by location constraints and occupancy opportunities. The architects wanted to lift off the ground to avoid flooding while still taking advantage of the elevated coastal views. The house manages to touch the ground lightly towards the street in a boat-like shape and maintain privacy from the public and neighbours.


Satisfying end result

Site location, climate, and unfriendly weather are challenges that must be faced. The solution, the architects devised 2 alternately oriented rectangles placed at each end of the site, one frame as tall as an old puriri tree at the road boundary then narrowing like a boat and the other frame stretching wide like the ocean horizon. Walls, floors, and roofs enclose the entire space with several open spaces forming opposite rectangular beams.







architect: RTA Studio

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