Plan of the Month – Muriwai

This long, skinny site at Muriwai had a few issues even before Cyclone Gabrielle ravaged the district.

From the road, it drops off seven metres to the natural building platform. A stream runs through the middle of it (effectively bisecting it) and to the front of the 83-metre-long section, a rocky cliff faces the sea. To even build here in this coastal hazard zone requires resource consent and plenty of determination.

Still, the young couple with three children between them aged 5, 8 and 10, had identified Muriwai as their paradise. They had been renting in the area and loved the relaxed outdoorsy vibe. Surfing on the doorstep? Yes please.

They were realistic about the development potential of the 1200-square-metre section where Pohutukawa bloom and the waves at Maukatia Bay pound the headland. Due to the generous setbacks required and the need to dedicate almost half the area to a wastewater field and tanks, the options became more constrained.

No worries. With a limited budget, they envisioned a small home anyhow, with ample decking to embrace the carefree lifestyle. And, as luck would have it, the part of the site that could accommodate the dwelling, boasts an unencumbered view out to sea.

The key move within this simple, rectangular plan is to pull it apart and insert a covered deck in the middle. To the north-west are the living areas and the main suite, while across the decking to the north-east are two more bedrooms for the children. This way, the adults have their own sanctuary, removed from the hubbub at the furthest end of the home – a master suite with a grand-stand view of the trees.

At 113-square metres, the building is by no means large, but it is tightly planned. The dining and kitchen area have immediate access to two decks (one covered, the other a wraparound that extends the alfresco action) and grab the lion’s share of the sun. The children’s bedrooms, which will be fitted out with bunks so the youngest two can share, are 3m x 3m – enough for a queen-sized bed, a built-in wardrobe and a desk for homework. In their zone, the shower and toilet are separate, rather like in a campsite where many people need to use the facilities, and a stand-alone laundry nearby means they don’t have to walk far to put their clothes in the washing basket!

The owners love to cook and family time around the table is important, so a built-in 50s-style dining booth was created to save valuable space. A pantry was also on their wish-list and an extra square metre was eked out for kitchen storage which pops out on the southern elevation, breaking the line of the rectangle. To the south too, a parking area will be created so the active couple can drive right up to the house. They agreed that a garage was not a necessity but, since the home will be built well off the ground, there may be the opportunity to drive under it. In the meantime, this elevated design will provide under-floor storage for all the toys, the surfboards and beach paraphernalia the family will, no doubt one day get good use out of.

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Plan of the Month – Muriwai

This long, skinny site at Muriwai had a few issues even before Cyclone Gabrielle ravaged the district. From the road, it drops off seven metres