herbst architects nestles this softly curving house into the new zealand dunes

herbst architects nestles this softly curving house into the new zealand dunes

a house in the dunes


Auckland-based studio Herbst Architects takes to an expansive dunescape along the eastern coast of New Zealand to construct its Dune House. The dwelling is designed in celebration of its undulating site, which is covered with a native flowering plant known as Muehlenbeckia to create a lush, green landscape rolling downward to the beach. The project comprises a main house with two bedrooms and two smaller ‘sleepout’ structures, following the needs of the client, while it is perched two hundred meters from the high-water mark — following local regulations. Thus, the home is safe from flooding and enjoys sweeping views of the sparkling horizon.

herbst architects dune houseimages © Simon Wilson@simon.c.wilson



wrapped in a rolling rain-screen


The team at Herbst Architects wraps its Dune House in a light rain-screen of timber battens. The simple rectangular volume of the structure is enhanced by the rain-screen’s sharply-cut top edge — a gesture which introduces a strong horizontal line to reflecting the horizon. Meanwhile, the lower edge of the screen is cut to create a curving profile, conceptually mirroring the undulating dunes and softening the geometry of the house within the landscape.


With the home divided between three buildings, a network of boardwalks are introduced to connect the spaces. These footpaths are built to sensitively float above the delicate Muehlenbeckia, respecting the integrity of the dunescape.

herbst architects dune house



herbst architects integrates the house into the landscape


The complex landscape proved a challenge for the designers at Herbst Architects in siting the Dune House, as the buildable area atop the required two hundred-meter setback line falls along a depression in the dunes. This resulted in a low-lying position for an already low one-story home, eliminating views of the ocean.


The team describes its design solution: ‘In order to keep as close to the beach as possible, and to maximize the potential view but avoid a double story structure in the landscape, we constructed the building on stilts then re-contoured the land around to building the bring the dunes to the new floor level.’

herbst architects dune house
a curving rain-screen reflects the undulating landscape
herbst architects dune houseinteriors frame views of the rolling dunes and ocean beyond


the home opens up with full-height windows

herbst architects dune housetimber finishes create a warm atmosphere


the rain-screen’s curving profile is expressed along the interior

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