At Home on The Shore – Papamoa Beach House by Herbst Architects
Papamoa Beach, NZ
Occupying a site with direct access to the beach in Papamoa, south of Auckland, Herbst Architects’ Papamoa Beach House unfolds in response to its two aspects – the street at one end of the site and the beach at the other.
In the absence of a traditional entry or visible apertures in the front façade, the building presents a veiled, closed face to the street. Instead, an angled wall and soffit guide the visitor to the side of the house. A direct line of sight to the ocean beyond beckons one down the side to the glazed entry door that opens into the kitchen-living space, which is located at the back of site nearest the beach. In this way, the home’s threshold is extended along the length of the site and the sense of connection between the architecture, the site and the beach is enhanced.
In the absence of a traditional entry or visible apertures in the front façade, the building presents a veiled, closed face to the street. Instead, an angled wall and soffit guide the visitor to the side of the house.
The entry sequence takes place along a decked walkway that runs along the edge of the home, bordered by a timber-clad wall and lush vegetation. With the kitchen, living and dining space adjoining the beach, privacy from the street and proximity to the ocean are both emphasised. These spaces become at once public and private, open to the views on one end of the site yet concealed from the other.
Where the street-facing elevation is closed, marked by its lack of visible openings, the beach-facing elevation employs full-height glazing to maximise access to the view. The language of the street frontage is continued, with sliding batten screens offering another layer to this façade and angled soffit protecting this threshold. Here, however, both elements complement rather than conceal the apertures behind.
Papamoa Beach House unfolds in response to its two aspects – the street at one end of the site and the beach at the other.
While the dark tones heighten the interiority of the spaces, the continuation of the timber inside creates a sense of unity between the interior and the exterior. This is heightened by the main living space’s large openings onto both the beach and the north-facing lawned courtyard, which create an impression that the living space is almost an outdoor open-sided pavilion. The position of these openings means that, just as the entrance walkway is given a view through the building to the sea beyond, the courtyard has its own visual relationship with the beach.
The bedrooms are accessed via another semi-external raised walkway that culminates in a secondary courtyard, dedicated to outdoor bathing. Though these most private areas of the home are situated to the front, nearest the street, the timber batten screens offer protection and enclosure. The permeable nature of the screens allows light to shine through at night, creating a lantern effect, while during the day airflow and filtered light are admitted to the spaces within.
Oriented not only outward to the beach but inward to its courtyards, Papamoa Beach House is contextualised through its relationship to the coastline. With its public and private spaces deliberately arranged with sensitivity to their use and to the site, the home offers a balanced and nuanced experience.