HOMAGE TO THE EN­VI­RON­MENT

In Pat­ter­son: Houses of Aotearoa, the land­scape is un­yield­ing. In an ex­tract from the book, this Bethells Beach lo­ca­tion has a fas­ci­nat­ing fam­ily his­tory.

Weekend Herald - Canvas - - CONTENTS -

In Pat­ter­son: Houses of Aotearoa, the land­scape is un­yield­ing. In an ex­tract from the book, this Bethells Beach lo­ca­tion has a fas­ci­nat­ing fam­ily his­tory.

The part of the old vol­cano on which this pro­ject sits is an isth­mus sep­a­rat­ing three wild, black-sand beaches. It is a re­mote spot, where the surf of the of­ten fe­ro­cious Tas­man Sea pounds the shore con­stantly. A sys­tem of sea caves, pass­able only on rare calm days at low tide, pro­vides a link be­tween two of the beaches. When it’s not calm, these an­cient caves breathe and crash with the ocean swells. Dur­ing a storm, you hear them howl­ing.

The client is one of the pi­o­neer­ing fam­i­lies of the area and the isth­mus it­self has passed down through the gen­er­a­tions. Eight years ago, be­fore coun­cil rules were im­posed, a small cot­tage was erected on the site. In 1989, dur­ing a light­ning storm, it burned down. A twist in reg­u­la­tions al­lowed 365 days to de­sign, ob­tain con­sent for and re­build the struc­ture be­fore the right to oc­cupy would be gone for­ever.

The brief was sim­ple: ex­actly the same area and po­si­tion. The first month we spent think­ing. Al­most 360-de­gree views were avail­able and beg­ging to be seen. So it re­ally had to be an oval speak­ing to the old vol­cano, def­er­en­tial in tone, more than just a model of the en­vi­ron­ment: a homage with a con­crete, fire­proof core hid­den in­side sac­ri­fi­cial, re­place­able storm shut­ters.

In­side there is an oval “great room”, two sleep­ing rooms and a bath­room buried into the ground be­hind. Each seg­ment of the oval re­sponds to a dif­fer­ent beach or for­est view. When opened wide the cot­tage be­comes one out­door cov­ered ter­race where the breeze can drift through.

This build­ing throws its oc­cu­pants into the land­scape and then wraps up into a cave when needed. It is a pat­tern of the land­scape it oc­cu­pies. The fam­ily are from Bethells Beach and this is their legacy to gen­er­a­tions to come.

PAT­TER­SON: HOUSES OF AOTEAROA, BY AN­DREW PAT­TER­SON (THAMES & HUD­SON, $95).

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