Home by the Ocean – Crow’s Nest by Red Architecture
Raglan, New Zealand

Photography Larnie Nicholson
Architecture Red Architecture
Interior Design Red Architecture
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Akin to the lookout positioned high on a ship’s mast, Crow’s Nest has a keen eye on the adjacent surf. Red Architecture answers a less-than-conventional brief by inverting the traditional and paying close focus to the upper elements of the build, with the lower dwelling as a secondary consideration.

In its coastal locale, Crow’s Nest is located in Whale Bay, Raglan, and is inspired by its surf-enthusiast owners’ connection to the location. While also a dwelling and place of shelter, the primary focus was on the upper level of the structure being the viewing platform of the adjacent swell and surf conditions. In its nuanced brief, the structure also needed to be temporary and relocatable as a means to future-proof the site and allow for another structure to take its place at some point. Inverting the traditional focus, a series of mechanisms and select materiality allow the structure to be disassembled and moved while feeling solid and permanent, as well as still ensuring clear visual access of the ocean.

The key focus of the design was as a celebration of the ocean and the event of surfing, not the experience of being inside.

Built by Luke Mathers, Crow’s Nest carves its own genre, and the required flexibility ensures the result is appropriately robust for its location. Initially an exercise in the creation of basic shelter, the resulting form retains the initial spirit of the dwelling in its basic volumetrics, with some more considered elements interwoven. The key focus of the design was as a celebration of the ocean and the event of surfing, not the experience of being inside. As a result, the upper deck then becomes the main point of concentration.

In order to ensure the overall mass could be broken down without cracking when moved, the use of ply internally meant there was a natural compartmentalisation and resilience already in place. Externally, timber elements clad the structure in sections that can be removed, should it be relocated. Sheet metal was also used both for its robustness and for the sheet panel system it provided. Taking cues from the surrounding landscape and tonality of flora, the interior experience is inspired by nature and a subtle softness. Much as surfing is about listening and responding to the ocean, living close to it demands a similar level of empathy and a keen ear, resulting in a sense of harmony created.

Taking cues from the surrounding landscape and tonality of flora, the interior experience is inspired by nature and a subtle softness.

Crow’s Nest is keenly focused on a life lived in close connection to the ocean. Embodying robustness and transportability, Red Architecture has created a curious structure that elevates, connects and shelters, while looking fittingly coastal in the process.

Published 16 February, 2021
Photography  Larnie Nicholson
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