Piha House

Modernist seaside home on Auckland‘s Piha beach.

Black sand, relentless ocean, jagged stone and a sky that dances between fiery white and violent seething black. Piha.

The environment calls for an architecture that holds its own, an uncompromising exterior that resists the elements. The materiality comprises black stained cedar, Low-E tinted glass in aluminium frames, natural timber elements, and the entry element to the southwest, an in situ cast curved wall clad in local stone. Being in a secluded location, the house is almost entirely self-sufficient with solar and battery, water tanks and on-site waste treatments.

The 60m2 sleep-out at the rear of the site was a previous DMA commission that served as a life raft for the owners to live in when they finally decided to remove the decrepit original house from the site. Drawing on the modernist bach aesthetic, the design employs an exposed roof structure and cantilevered living area projecting toward the sea, which had long since eroded the form below.

The small footprint of the sleep-out established the main house's scale and articulation. Prioritising living on the upper level to capture the beachfront views while creating privacy from the main beach road access below. Separating the main living area from the sleeping areas are courtyards, the larger of the two intended for an extension of outdoor dining and living and the other a fern-planted light well.

The interior space is an arrangement of complex forms, like that of a rock pool, calm and temporarily removed from the intensity of the ocean. Subtle timber, pink hues, and the exposed curve in-situ wall remind us of that attractive microcosm space.

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Piha, Auckland, New Zealand


  • Daniel Marshall
  • Shiqi Shelley Lin
  • Yao Qin


  • Jackie Meiring