Whangapoua sled house beach retreat

On the shore of an idyllic white sandy beach on New Zealand’s Coromandel Peninsula rests an elegant hut designed by Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects. The site lies within the coastal erosion zone, where all building must be removable. The 495 square foot (46 square meters) sled house is designed on two thick wooden sleds for movement back up the site or across the beach and onto a barge.

The hut is simply designed, with an aesthetic that is natural and reminiscent of a beach artifact/perhaps a surf-life-saving or observation tower. The fittings and mechanics are industrial and obvious; the structure is gutsy and exposed. The holiday retreat is designed to close up against the elements when not in use. It accommodates a family of five in a kitchen/dining/living area, a bathroom and two sleeping zones, the children’s accommodating a three tiered bunk. When the hut is closed up, the rough macrocarpa cladding blends into the landscape and perches unobtrusively on the dunes. The rear being clad in “flat sheet” a cheap building material found in many traditional New Zealand holiday homes.

These clients sought to explore the real essence of holiday living; small, simple, and functional. The normal rituals of daily life; cooking dining, sleeping and showering all being done while connected to the outside. The two storey shutter on the front facade opens to form an awning, shading the interior from summer sun while allowing winter sun to enter. It reveals a double height steel framed glass doors that open the interior much like the tent flap, connecting the living and the ladder accessed mezzanine bedroom to the extraordinary view. The interior has been designed with complete efficiency; every available space is utilized from cabinetry toe spaces to secret cubby holes within the children’s bunks.

The hut is completely sustainable from its modest size to the use of timber in its cladding, structure, lining and joinery and from its worm tank waste system to the separate potable grey water tanks. This is a new way of looking at holiday living in this sensitive dune environment.

Visit the website of Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects here.

Photos: Jackie Meiring