The owners of this beachfront home have a Polynesian and Melanesian background and a strong component of this heritage is reflected in the layout of the site. The entrance references the ‘pure’aga’ (a traditional Rotuman Village) with arrival via a pathway skirting a central lawn and a cooking fire as the communal heart of the home. Three forms cluster around this open space – two bedroom blocks and a separate self-contained unit and references to the ‘ri’ (house) exist in the main pavilion. Its robust, gentle-pitch gable with expressed bargeboards extends to form a porch and, internally, the rafters are exposed.
Conceptually, the scheme is about the spaces beneath the roof so there is a clear discipline to the height where the wall linings end and the open roof sits on top. This structural framework is comprised of laminated timbers and band-sawn dark-stained pine. The home has a deliberately hewn feel to it; we wanted to create a wooden building with a Polynesian background. Timber plugs conceal the steel bolts connecting the beams providing a handmade rather than an industrial feel, while a stairway leading to the mezzanine master suite features treads of coconut wood to further support the South Pacific theme.
Our clients have young teenagers and friends and family are regular visitors. The separate ‘apei’ wing and detached ‘tefui’ pavilion were designed for maximum flexibility so the family can grow into the spaces throughout the years. Glazing has been used to capture the expansive beachfront and ocean views, while providing privacy from neighbours to either side. A patterned frit on the western façade of the main ‘ri fisi’ pavilion – meaning ‘white house’, a name given to a family home in Rotuma – replicates the sea, throwing shifting shadows onto the waxed concrete floors.