Omaha holiday house by Architecture Smith + Scully

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Front view.

Front view. Image: Samuel Hartnett

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Looking back towards the house from Omaha beach.

Looking back towards the house from Omaha beach. Image: Samuel Hartnett

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Kitchen looks out on to the dunes.

Kitchen looks out on to the dunes. Image: Samuel Hartnett

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Views to Omaha beach from first floor deck.

Views to Omaha beach from first floor deck. Image: Samuel Hartnett

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The dining and living area have hard-wearing polished concrete floors and concrete black walls.

The dining and living area have hard-wearing polished concrete floors and concrete black walls. Image: Samuel Hartnett

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Bathroom. Image: Samuel Hartnett

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Ground floor plan.

Ground floor plan.

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First floor plan.

First floor plan.

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Built in stages, the two parts of this house fit together to form a relaxed space to enjoy the beach lifestyle.

Omaha beach is around an hour north of Auckland by car and a popular weekend retreat. The owners of this house, designed by Architecture Smith + Scully, purchased the site when there were only a few houses around.

When Director Carolyn Smith started work on designing the plans, there was very little surrounding context. Smith designed the house assuming there would be maximum site coverage houses on either side of this one eventually. It is a beach front site so this was a reasonable and fortuitous assumption.

The clients’ brief was for a holiday house built in two stages. They wanted a house that looked and felt like a kiwi bach but would be able to stand its own amongst the big budget houses they knew would eventually flank it.

The clients really wanted the house to be robust so they could enjoy the space without worrying about upkeep. Smith says the materials were selected with this in mind; sandy feet and surfboards wouldn’t be a concern, and the space can almost be hosed out.

The materials make up a very sandy, neutral colour palette. Plywood as the main cladding, fair-faced concrete block and polished concrete floors have been used for economy and easy maintenance. The plan is made up of two blocks, the first built in 2006 and the second in 2010 with the landscaping completed in 2011. Smith had to design the whole plan in order to have it approved through the Council and the Omaha Design Control Committee.

The plan is two plywood boxes with an open walkway linking them, which creates a nice sheltered outdoor living area. This was quite important and is often employed in house designs in the area as it is almost always windy at Omaha, says Smith. The easterly wind would make it difficult to always enjoy the space on the beach side of the house, so the courtyard creates an alternative sheltered space. This is a house that looks and feels like a relaxed holiday home, and is a modest and graceful asset for the neighbourhood.

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