A Pyramid to Play In

September 1 2021

We hear that the locals have dubbed it the Toblerone house but, in fact, the triangular form of this Great Barrier bach is inspired by a harbour marker. That makes sense since the dwelling sits just behind the dunes at Medlands Beach. From the water, the shape can be seen as a beacon of shelter and safety.

The owners, a boating family, enthusiastically embraced the nautical concept, that also alludes to the whare or fale. The project architect (the daughter of the clients and an RTA Studio employee at the time) worked with director Richard Naish on the scheme, and she instinctively knew this was never going to be a precious house. Her parents wanted a place apart from the city, a scheme that allowed a simple occupation of the land.

The upstairs ‘triangle’ is like a tented bedroom zone with a main suite that looks out over the sea. Here a deck becomes a place to watch the passing summer parade, to wave to neighbours and invite them in for a cuppa. Wooden screens can open it to the community or close securely when the holiday is at its end.

To the rear, two bunk rooms faces inland, with an equally engaging snapshot view of hills swathed in native bush. At only five metres wide, there is the necessity to duck and walk sideways on the way to bed. No worries. The clients enjoyed this quirkiness and the way, at night, LED strip lighting strung along the ridge, festively emphasises the geometry and intimate embrace the roof.

Downstairs, the living/kitchen and dining is mapped into a slender footprint, just four metres wide. Plywood cabinetry painted happy colours is a design ode to joy – the simple stuff that makes coming here a true break from busyness. Since the land falls away steeply from the street, an undercroft was built as a place to store the boat, fishing rods, and the objects that put play at the centre of the summer experience.

This beach house has been named as a finalist in the inaugural HERE Awards 2021 which, the magazine says are aimed to be “progressive, joyful, clear-eyed and fun”. We can’t wait to see who wins at the awards ceremony which will take place on October 20 at the Auckland Art Gallery.