Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

HMOA’s award-winning house at Peka Peka Beach


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Clever, casual, and very private: HMOA's award-winning house at Peka Peka Beach

Nestled in behind the sand dunes and bounded by a forest of ancient kānuka is an award-winning house positioned to favour privacy and shelter over views of the sea. Designed by John Melhuish, a director at Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architecture (HMOA), the house at Peka Peka Beach on the Kapiti Coast won a housing award at the 2016 NZIA Wellington Architecture Awards and was a finalist in the 2016 NZIA New Zealand Architecture Awards.

A beach house unlike any other the almost-20 year old practice has designed before, to make your way onto this Peka Peka property you must first gently push your way past the native bush to get to the front door. The owners intentionally made it this way: you move, the native bush stays where it is.

The native bush was an important starting point for this house, the KCDC district plan ensures that the ancient kānuka along the road frontage remains protected for future owners to enjoy. This guardianship made construction of the house slightly more challenging for contractors with a stipulation that all work would be carried out in respectful deference to the trees.

The judges said: “Using just two simple beach house volumes (main house and sleep out), nearby sand dunes and the surrounding kānuka forest, a clever, casual and very private courtyard has been formed. The layered clerestory windows and pergolas play with light and shade, enhancing indoor and courtyard spaces, while the beautifully consistent and controlled detailing completes what is a very pleasant picture.”

A weekend bach that will one day become a place to retire to, the brief for this house was to provide the best of indoor and outdoor living. Set apart from the predominantly glazed, pergola-shaded living area, one can step down to a cosy snug with a wood burner.

Clad in two contrasting cedar weatherboard profiles, the house opens out onto a sheltered internal courtyard protected from the prevailing coastal winds. The main house sits on one side of the glade while a separate sleep-out provides protection and privacy from the neighbouring site.

Photos by Andy Spain.