With cold weather sweeping most of the northern hemisphere, it’s nice to be reminded of the pleasures of the beach. The Hut on Sleds, shortlisted for the World Architecture Festival 2012 prize, was designed by New Zealand architecture firm Crosson, Clarke, Carnachan Architects. The design revolves around accommodating the aggressive coastal environment of New Zealand Beaches like Whangapoua Beach, where we find a shore plagued by coastal erosion. Coastal erosion occurs when land is pushed further back by waves and violent weather conditions. A static house on one of these beaches therefore runs the risk of its foundation being damaged or even destroyed by a storm.
CCCA’s Hut on Sleds is a home on two sleds that could be moved along the sand as the waves invade the shores thereby reducing risk of damage to the foundation. One of the biggest challenges was finding a means of transportation that was more readily available than a crane or big wheeler. Because of its lightweight, it is actually managed with tractors or all-terrain vehicles. A tractor would pull the entire hut away from the tide as it crawls onto the shore.
The house is equipped with bunk beds and a full bedroom, a fireplace and ample storage units for kitchenware and books. The design allows for a family of up to 5 to live comfortably within an area f only 40 square meters. With a mezzanine, a rooftop deck and a very conservative plan of the ground-floor, it incorporates functionality and encourages comfort and excellent air circulation. The main windows overlook the ocean but can be covered with movable shutters should the weather call for it. There is no official heating or cooling system other than the fireplace and natural ventilation through breezes. The hut is connected to the national power grid and can be disconnected and moved at will.
The design is made to look like a wooden square box when not in use but it is transformed into a light-filled home with full amenities and exhibits a very functional use of space. The materials were made to reflect the organic New Zealand landscape and they include wood, aluminum and stone. The intent was to make the structure blend in with its natural environment becoming an appropriate and seamless addition to the coastline.The project is also concerned with movable screens, shutters and doors so that the indoor environment can be manipulated by the users according to weather and mood.