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Rewa Beach House in Wellington, New Zealand

4 Mar 2020

Rewa Beach House

Design: KebbellDaish Architects

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

The new Rewa Beach House brings some of the playfulness, informality and communal living we associate with beach culture to a Wellington suburb.

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

Beach houses in New Zealand were once very informal places, and some still are. Property boundaries were seldom understood, let alone protected by high fences. Cricket on the beach was the most serious event of the day and children roamed between houses grazing from fridge to fridge.

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

While you can still find these places, they’re not as common as they were, and they’re even more rare in the suburbs of our contemporary cities. Like most other suburban houses, the fridge in this house is behind locked doors, but we did make a few gestures that invite the kind of informal sharing we once expected at the beach.

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

Our client lives in the house next door and this is a new rental property, so we conceived a common garden between the two properties by adding steps that reflect the existing steps on our client’s side of the boundary. One day, those steps could extend to the bottom of the site and across public land to the beach below.

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

Perhaps there will be a time when our concern for individual security gives way to a bigger concern for collective resilience and the path can become more of a suburban alleyway – a shortcut to the beach for a wider circle of friends and neighbours.
We devoted the rest of the outside area to a modest garden and space to hang the washing. Being the only flat and private outdoor area, we wanted to avoid a standard-issue washing line that might compromise the ambience, so we integrated one into the house itself.

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

The interior opens generously to the north and east, with two significant skylights to let in as much of the scarce afternoon sun as possible. The relatively steep monopitch ceiling is an important part of the view, so is carefully detailed accordingly.

Because we didn’t know who would live in this house, we just imagined they would be the sharing type with a need to do lots of colourful laundry. In any case, both the potential suburban alleyway development and the built-in washing line provide the framework for a certain kind of creative lifestyle. One that has its roots in the playful informality we might find at the beach, and could so easily set the tone for a contemporary suburb.

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

The brief was to design a small and affordable speculative house that would protect sun and views for our client’s house to the south, and could be rented out to the nicest people in the market.

The pathway between this house and our client’s existing house led to further research on how the whole suburb could become more pedestrian friendly. This design research was done in collaboration with a public health researcher at Otago University, Jenny Ombler, and has been published in a book called “Designing for Health & Wellbeing” published by Vernon Press in 2018. The same design research on pedestrianizing the suburb was exhibited at the Seoul Biennale for Architecture and Urbanism in 2019.

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

The site is relatively steep and the setback lines impose significant constraints. Importantly, there is only one small area available for outside living. After having a washing line rather compromise a house I designed as a young architect, I was keen to make sure that didn’t happen again.

Rewa Beach House in NZ – Building Information

Design Architect: KebbellDaish Architects
Project size: 115 sqm
Site size: 412 sqm
Completion date: 2020
Building levels: 2

Rewa Beach House Wellington NZ

Associate Architect: Architecture Lab

Photography: Andy Spain

Rewa Beach House in Wellington, New Zealand images / information received 040320

Location: Wellington, New Zealand

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