Rising Upward, Touching Lightly – Buckletons Bach by RTA Studio
Buckletons Beach, Tāwharanui Peninsula, New Zealand

Photography Patrick Reynolds
Architecture RTA Studio
Interior Design RTA Studio
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Structural Engineering HFC Group

Rising upward and outward in response to its siting, Buckletons Bach sits deliberately light and calm as it engages with the coastal setting. RTA Studio combines a naturally led and elemental approach in crafting an occasional home set to endure for years to come.

Located north of Auckland in the Tāwharanui Peninsula, Buckletons Bach engages with its site from a place of sensitivity and appreciative understanding. Instead of imposing a large or ill-fitting structure, without consideration of context or an understanding of the climatic conditions, the slight timber-clad form is the opposite. Rising up out of its sand and rock covered base, the tall and thin form ramps up from its entrance to a base habitation level that sits above the terrain below. In an area prone to flooding, and with the realistic prospect of that flooding only increasing over time, the architectural response needed to be conceived from a place of respect and empathy if it was to endure. RTA Studio proposes an upward elevating form to ensure the lightest touch and in responding to the dynamic tides a refined and textural addition emerges.

Under the house, native vegetation extends, and it is only where the piles and ramp intersect with the site that are disturbed by the bach’s presence.

Built by Buffalo Construction together with engineering by HFC Group, Buckletons Bach is an unexpected addition to its location. Unlike many occasional homes that lay low and offer a simplified approach to construction and engagement with their site, this instead is deliberate, and its elevation acts in response to the changing conditions it is immersed within. In an area that frequently floods from significant rain, for the structure to survive it needed to be raised above the flood line. A ramping affect allows for ground level access on both foot and vehicle if needed, while the natural fall aids in the draining of any access water if and as needed. The resulting home is essentially a conversation about the feasibility of coastal dwellings and through increased knowledge and data of the areas changing conditions shows such coexistence can work.

Sitting on piles that extend 12m deep into the ground, the structure is well supported and stabilised in its location, allowing the upper levels of the structure to be of lighter weight construction and feel. Clad in timber aimed to age and patina with time and through its proximity to the coast, there is an elemental quality to the approach that connects to the rural and coastal vernacular. Through the expressed structural elements and simplified and unconcealed approach, elements sit raw and natural against the setting. Both treated and untreated timber are idyllically selected to suit the location, while adding warmth and a connection to the natural. Under the house, native vegetation extends, and it is only where the piles and ramp intersect with the site that are disturbed by the bach’s presence.

Through the expressed structural elements and simplified and unconcealed approach, elements sit raw and natural against the setting.

Through a considered approach, RTA Studio’s Buckletons Bach works with its unique site and allows an otherwise non-habitable occupation so close to the coast, sitting light and in balance to its setting.

Published 21 April, 2021
Photography  Patrick Reynolds
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