Beach House by Herbst Architects

The Castle Rock Beach House designed in 2014 by Herbst Architects is located in Auckland, New Zealand.

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Description by Herbst Architects


Large, cranked and hilly with the prescribed building platform positioned on the crest of the seaside knoll. Views – south facing sea view, north facing mountain view.

Features – a mature Pohutukawa tree is on the knoll.

A watercourse and associated wet gully runs along the eastern boundary accented by a large boulder. The knoll drops off sharply to a crescent shaped bay fringed with mature trees.


The building platform on the knoll has an 8m rolling height limit.


A holiday house for primarily summer use with a boatshed /garage. The house will not be used as a permanent residence.


This building is a continuation of our exploration in a genre of building that is specifically design for occupation in the summer months. In the design process we attempt to challenge the boundaries between the built form and nature to heighten the experience of immersion in nature. We challenge also the accepted levels of comfort and utility for the same reason. We attempt also to reference the nostalgia surrounding the “Kiwi bach” by manipulating scale, form, relationships, materiality and limitation of amenity.


Break the building into 2 primary components in order to reduce the scale and to allow the bach to follow the contour of the land.

Create a single cut in the knoll and retain it with a gabion wall, this sets up a spine around which the components can be ordered.

Separate the functions by a full level to allow a panoramic view from the living level and to step the house down towards the beach.

The living pavilion is articulated as a series of 4 spaces in a pinwheel arrangement; a kitchen, a lounge and 2 covered decks. The kitchen aspects towards both the north and south deck depending on the prevailing wind conditions by manipulating a series of doors and shutters.

A stair drops to the lower level and penetrates the gabion wall, a covered outside walkway running along the gabion wall connects to the bedroom spaces.

The stair continues on axis with a powerful rock formation at the base of the slope to make the connection to the beach.

A black stained rainscreen cladding introduces a crenulated layering which peels open in part to allow views and privacy or wind screening.

Structural timbers are generally exposed and left without color embellishment.

Photography by Patrick Reynolds

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- by Matt Watts