Beyond the sea

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The sharply geometric forms of this Manawatu home maximises the sun and water views, while also addressing potential flooding.

The sharply geometric forms of this Manawatu home maximises the sun and water views, while also addressing potential flooding. Image: Davor Popadich

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The facing suite extends alone one side of the house. Storage space is built into the partitioning elements that partially divide the long space.

The facing suite extends alone one side of the house. Storage space is built into the partitioning elements that partially divide the long space. Image: Davor Popadich

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The airy white-and-grey master suite features full-height windows, and grey carpet that echoes the polished terrazzo floors in the public rooms.

The airy white-and-grey master suite features full-height windows, and grey carpet that echoes the polished terrazzo floors in the public rooms. Image: Davor Popadich

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Windows along the exterior wall permit views above the rooflines of the neighbouring homes, while vertical louvres ensure privacy.

Windows along the exterior wall permit views above the rooflines of the neighbouring homes, while vertical louvres ensure privacy. Image: Davor Popadich

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Fabric and furnishings add pops of colour, texture and pattern to enliven the restrained material palette.

Fabric and furnishings add pops of colour, texture and pattern to enliven the restrained material palette. Image: Davor Popadich

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In the open-plan kitchen, the clean lines of the polished metal island and rangehood complement the light, contemporary look of the interior.

In the open-plan kitchen, the clean lines of the polished metal island and rangehood complement the light, contemporary look of the interior. Image: Davor Popadich

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The expansive shelving and storage cabinets extend along a main wall and incorporate a fireplace.

The expansive shelving and storage cabinets extend along a main wall and incorporate a fireplace. Image: Davor Popadich

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The polished terrazzo underfoot is repeated on benchtop surfaces.

The polished terrazzo underfoot is repeated on benchtop surfaces. Image: Davor Popadich

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The neutral material palette comes alive as an abundance of light floods the main living areas throughout most of the day.

The neutral material palette comes alive as an abundance of light floods the main living areas throughout most of the day. Image: Davor Popadich

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Throughout the interior, built-in cabinetry adds to a sleek, uncluttered look.

Throughout the interior, built-in cabinetry adds to a sleek, uncluttered look. Image: Davor Popadich

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A small nook adjacent to the dining area is a small, unexpected pocket of enclosure in the otherwise transparent, open interior.

A small nook adjacent to the dining area is a small, unexpected pocket of enclosure in the otherwise transparent, open interior. Image: Davor Popadich

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Seating is provided by a terrazzo ledge.

Seating is provided by a terrazzo ledge. Image: Davor Popadich

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Walls of glass in the main living spaces allow generous views across the Manawatu river estuary and the sea beyond.

Walls of glass in the main living spaces allow generous views across the Manawatu river estuary and the sea beyond. Image: Davor Popadich

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The solidity of the lower plinth and the deep roofline contrasts with the transparency of the glass-enclosed upper volume.

The solidity of the lower plinth and the deep roofline contrasts with the transparency of the glass-enclosed upper volume. Image: Davor Popadich

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The plinth and wall serve to elevate the main living spaces well above any potential floodwaters.

The plinth and wall serve to elevate the main living spaces well above any potential floodwaters. Image: Davor Popadich

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A visual and physical relationship between indoor and outdoor spaces is frequently a design-driver, especially when building in a picturesque coastal location. But it’s not always a straightforward proposition. 

After years spent holidaying at their bach in Foxton, these homeowners decided to make the move to full-time seaside living, and hired Patterson Associates to design a new home.

The solidity of the lower plinth and the deep roofline contrasts with the transparency of the glass-enclosed upper volume.  Image:  Davor Popadich

Foxton’s location on the west coast of the North Island make wind and sand an ever-present consideration. But in this case, Patterson explains, the potential impact of climate change was the primary concern.

“Much of Foxton has been designated a flood zone, due to rising sea levels, so dealing with that – more than the sand and wind – was the biggest challenge to the site. The site itself is on the estuary [near the mouth of the Manawatu River] so in fact, it’s in a very sheltered location. But we had to find a way to address the likelihood of rising water.”

The physical form of the house, as well as the internal spatial configuration, is a thoughtfully designed prescription of maximising the positive and minimising – or even mitigating – the potentially negative.  

Viewed from the front, the large, glass-walled main volume appears to sit atop a relatively small, slightly offset, pedestal-like volume. Upon closer inspection, it’s apparent that the plinth broadens on either side, seamlessly morphing into a rear retaining wall that runs parallel to the street, and then sharply corners to become a perpendicular boundary delineator on either side. The wide, flat driveway and unadorned, close-clipped lawn adds to the striking simplicity of the front elevation.

Seating is provided by a terrazzo ledge.  Image:  Davor Popadich

Constructed of concrete, the plinth and wall serve to elevate the main living spaces well above any potential floodwaters, and ameliorate any erosion. “The rooms on that low
est level are all secondary spaces,” says Patterson. “That entire structure has been designed to withstand a certain amount of incoming water without incurring any real structural damage.”

Behind the retaining wall, the ground has been built up to meet the main level, and the living room opens up to a generous covered terrace which steps down to meet the lawn.

The main volume is the complete antithesis – a nearly transparent form, with a glass-enclosed balcony wrapping around the front to take in the surrounding views. “Enclosing a balcony [with glass] is something I do frequently. In our changeable climate, especially on the coast, it allows what’s considered to be an ‘outdoor space’ to be used comfortably nearly year-round,” says Patterson. 

The open-plan public spaces, which circulate around the main stairwell, are predominanted by the cool tones of white walls and grey terrazzo floors; augmented by warm, pale wood cabinets. This restful, yet sophisticated, composition is punctuated with bursts of colour – sage green, gold, carmine and aubergine – from fabrics, area rugs and artwork.

Windows along the exterior wall permit views above the rooflines of the neighbouring homes, while vertical louvres ensure privacy.  Image:  Davor Popadich

While horizontal lines and straight-sided geometric forms prevail in the cabinetry and joinery detailing, this is softened through occasional circles – seen in the light fixtures – and strategic elements of tactility – from the billowing lightweight draperies, to the comfortably upholstered furnishings and abundant accent cushions.

The mostly white master suite is a study in minimalism, but grey carpet underfoot and an abundance of natural light, complemented by expansive views, ensures the ambiance is restful, as opposed to austere.

Hidden from the street, behind the unbroken stretch of retaining wall, the rear garden is a seamless extension of the interior public spaces. A deep, wide concrete terrace is enclosed on two sides, and steps down to the flat grassy area.

Along with the desire to bring nature in, this home proves that, sometimes, equally imaginative and elegant solutions can spring from the desire to keep the outside out. 


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