A contemporary take on the humble boatshed in the historic French seaside village of Akaroa serves as the perfect getaway for one fortunate couple.
Just an hour’s drive from the hustle and bustle of the Garden City lies the tranquil settlement of Akaroa, where the ebb and flow of the tides determines the pace of life. It is easy to see why so many tourists and locals alike are drawn to its natural beauty and the respite it offers.
With a deep appreciation of the location, the homeowners say their design brief was straightforward: a simple form based on the ‘old-school Monopoly-style houses’ that – just like a boatshed – could be completely secured when not in use, subsiding into the shadows.
With 25 years’ experience creating multi-award-winning architectural dwellings, Avenue Homes Design Build was enlisted to bring this couple’s dream to fruition. Operated by brothers Sam and Ben Calvin and their father, John, the family building company specialises in high-end architectural dwellings and has completed many waterfront homes.
Travelling between Christchurch and Akaroa every day to keep a close eye on progress, Sam managed all aspects of the build, maintaining momentum throughout. Keeping his clients in the loop – even with them out of the country over the course of the project – Sam made sure the ‘evolution of the initial concept’ stayed on track with regular phone calls, emails and numerous photos.
Evident in every aspect of the build, their meticulous attention to detail ensures consistently stunning results. Offering their clients a full project management service combined with quality craftsmanship backed by broad industry knowledge, Sam says that delivering an enjoyable and ‘highly interactive experience’ for their clients throughout the process is what they do best.
This stunning beach house owes much of its flavour to the surrounding coastal environment, Sam says. Elements such as the irregular gable roofs mirror those of boat sheds, while exposed structural steel bracing on the inside lends an industrial vibe, and vast expanses of glazing give the inhabitants a front-row seat to take in the magnificent ever-changing vistas.
Dedicated to the pursuit of perfection, Sam says they were fortunate that the homeowners were eager to embrace new ideas and push the envelope on convention in order to create ‘an incredibly special’ and stylish beach house that has all the makings of a maritime masterpiece.
Using cutting-edge materials and techniques, with salvaged materials and quirky interior elements commissioned especially for the home, this rendering of the iconic Kiwi bach is elevated to another realm entirely.
Due to the harsh elements of its seaside locale, Sam explains how crucial it was that all exterior materials selected were hardy enough to withstand the whipping winds and corrosive saltwater spray. Shiplap cedar weatherboard cladding, stained ‘midnight’, gives the simple form a striking presence, with giant barn doors that slide shut over expansive glazing when bad weather descends.
Creating a strong relationship between the house and its natural environment, salvaged timber from different wharves around the peninsula add character to the hard landscaping.
The simple, low-maintenance outdoor areas were designed by Xteriorscapes. Preparing concept plans, 3D modelling and detailed working drawings in the initial design phase, Landscape Architect Chris Owen worked closely with Avenue Homes throughout the construction period to ensure the clients’ original vision was carried out, using raw materials to harmonise with the natural environment.
Specially poured concrete paving is juxtaposed with colour-rich Purple Heart timber boardwalks and a deck constructed from recycled railway sleepers. Native plantings that thrive in coastal climates were selected by Chris with hopes of attracting native birdlife, and giant lichen-encrusted boulders line the property’s boundary, mirroring the rocks beyond the sea wall.
An exposed aggregate finish was used on driveways and paths in and around the series of boatshed dwellings for a rough, stony look; while a non-slip decorative sponge finish was selected for the patios. Concrete 4 U owner Terry Burgess says he particularly enjoys working with Avenue Homes because of their drive for perfection; they expect the very best from their sub-contractors in order to deliver exceptional results every time.
To capture Akaroa’s stunning waterfront views, an impressive nine-metre triple sliding door was installed, spanning the width of the living area. Quality APL Architectural Series aluminium joinery was used throughout the home. Relishing a challenge, Monarch Aluminium Manager Kerry Munro says they employed ‘some good old Kiwi ingenuity’ in the pursuit of the best solutions for all windows and doors to complement the building’s strong, functional design aesthetic.
Adding to the home’s high-end bespoke look, design details such as the negative detailing on the door jambs on all interior flush-panel doors was executed by Bates Joinery. Building the stair carcass and external boat shed doors, Bates Joinery also manufactured the timber joinery on select windows to blend seamlessly with the building’s handsome black-stained cedar cladding.
In the kitchen and bathrooms, a combination of whitewashed tongue-and-groove pine and marine plywood was used as a nod to Scandinavian simplicity, which also reflects the natural light that streams in through the vast expanses of glazing.
A personal highlight for the owners is the unique trio of pendants that take pride of place in the spacious living room. Designed by the couple’s son, from his London-based design studio, they take their cue from the volcanoes that have shaped the surrounding peninsula: their form is inspired by a volcano’s structural rings, and the brushed brass tubes symbolise the internal magma. As a nod to the seaside location, the cylindrical sheets of brass have undergone a chemical process that adds a beautiful teal patina.
All electrical services, including the home’s security system, lighting, and power and data outlets were supplied and installed by Regenerate. To achieve clean lines on the exterior cladding, Regenerate used a Teubel domestic metering switchboard. All other products used by Regenerate – like Arrowhead Alarms – were selected for their quality, performance and simplicity of form.
The success of any great building is testament to the united approach of the builder and his team of sub-contractors and suppliers. Working towards a common goal, Avenue Homes has achieved an exceptional home that all can be proud of.
The holy trinity – where clever design combines with honest materials and is executed with meticulous craftsmanship – proved to be a winning combination in this understated beach house, which has received the highest accolade amongst Registered Master Builders, winning gold in the 2017 House of the Year Awards.
Words: Majka Kaiser
Photography: Mick Stephenson