The peninsula’s white sand dunes, east of Aukland, are beautiful but ever shifting. This high-erosion zone makes foundations impossible and it demands that structures be mobile.
When Crosson Clarke Carnachan Architects was charged with building a small summer home for a family of five to sit among these dunes, they came up with the Hut on Sleds. True to its name, the cabin is perched on massive runners that allow it to be towed up and down the oceanfront property.
The family who commissioned the home requested something small, simple and functional. Inspired by the form of a lookout tower, the hut delivers a compact footprint, housing a mere 40 square metres of living space.
The exterior is clad in planks of macrocarpa, a member of the cypress family and native to New Zealand. When not in use, the windows and doors can be completely shuttered, protecting it from the elements and allowing the hut to virtually disappear into the surroundings.
When in use, the windows are thrown open, but the main activating feature is a bi-fold shutter on the south facade. Cranked open with a flywheel, it forms a large awning that provides shade to a set of steel-framed glass doors that reach two storeys high. The open-concept ground floor and mezzanine above offer uninterrupted views of the beach, the ocean and the Mercury Islands beyond.
Inside, wood shelving and panels cover every surface, offsetting industrial fittings that complete the functional aesthetic. Space is used with nautical efficiency. For instance, the mezzanine, which houses the sleeping quarters, is accessible by a ladder that rises through a hatch, while the children’s room houses a triple-decker bunk bed and recessed shelving.
Following the ladder to the roof leads to a terrace and the grey water gravity tanks that provide the home’s water supply. Even a worm tank has been worked into the project’s eco-friendly scheme, used for composting organics and reducing waste volume by 90 per cent.