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RK Residence by Seear-Budd Ross


RK Residence by New Zealand-based architecture and interiors studio Seear-Budd Ross was designed for clients who were relocating from a rural setting to a coastal site in Eastbourne, Wellington. The clients wanted a home that embodied the coastal environment and facilitated a peaceful, relaxed lifestyle that was synonymous with beach living. To achieve this, the essence of the project was distilled into a few words: light, airy, informal, and calm. While the brief included programmatic aspects such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms, conversations during the design process often came back to these four key words. The brief also called for a home that could flex and transition depending on the seasons, and allow for a casual flow for the owners' entertaining lifestyle.

The resulting design features two pavilions, living and sleeping, with a courtyard and glazed link in the middle. The front of the home is exposed and connected to the street and harbour, while the courtyard and sleeping quarters are progressively more private. Beginning with an entry sequence clad entirely in New Zealand-grown macrocarpa, a timber that omits a fragrant, spicy scent, the enclosed nature of the entry nook gives a cave-like feel. In contrast, the adjoining living pavilion has a vaulted ceiling, also clad in macrocarpa, that provides an immediate and freeing sense of spaciousness. A feeling further enhanced by generous views of the ocean and plentiful natural light, the understated space is airy and inviting. Textured flooring underfoot encourages one to be barefoot straight from the beach.

The project is located along Eastbourne’s Marine Parade, a street that straddles the native-covered hills to the east and the beach and harbour to the west. The existing housing stock along this coastal stretch is mainly one to two-storied, timber-clad homes with strong hipped or gabled roof forms facing the street. The hipped roof and existing floor level of the existing cottage that sat on the site became key drivers when developing the design. The hipped roof has been stretched to create a wide, low-slung profile. This roof structure was integral in the pursuit of a highly unified exterior, as it neatly encompasses the garage and the dwelling, creating a sense of continuity and calm in keeping with the landscape at its edges.

The pavilions have been crafted largely from weathered timber and light, sand-colored materials to reflect the native surroundings through texture and tone. The exterior is wrapped in New Zealand pine with a grey-toned and band-sawn finish that allows the house to feel like a piece of weathered driftwood one might find along the beach. Blue-grey stone inside and out with tumbled edges and honed surfaces feel like an extension of the stoney beach across the street. Internally, macrocarpa linings and rafters inject a lovely scent into the home while providing a warm counterpoint to the grey-toned exterior. Honed stone elements appear again in the kitchen and bathrooms, where entire vanities are beautifully crafted from stone.

Sustainability was very much a priority in this project. Construction was carried out using locally sourced materials such as heat-treated NZ pine (Abode) for cladding, and NZ-grown macrocarpa used for the rafters, sarking and timber wall linings. The house was also designed with high thermal performance, low-usage electrical fittings, low VOC paints, and NZ wool carpets.

In addition to the beautiful design and sustainability features, there are also a few moments of surprise within the home. Carved out from behind the garage sits two small rooms. Carved out from behind the garage sits two small rooms. One is a stone cave that serves as an outdoor shower, providing a refreshing respite after a hot afternoon swim. The other is a timber cave built from the same material as the exterior cladding, but retaining its original rich brown hue. This cosy and dimly lit room makes for an ideal sauna experience during chilly winter evenings.

Photography by Rory Gardiner

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