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The brief was for a robust building that will withstand the harsh coastal environment of North Piha,” says architect Ken Crosson. “We had to accommodate four lifeguards with excellent visibility along the beach. A building that was functional and responsive to its context.

Named Te Pae (sentinel or guardian) by Te Kawerau à Maki, the tower is made up of precast concrete sections, assembled on site to minimize disturbance from dunes and plantations. The black oxide concrete references the black sand of the beach while the design is a nod to the historic maritime viewing structures still found along the New Zealand coast.

“The tower is sustainable,” says Crosson, “using operable windows for ventilation, with high levels of insulation, thermal mass and natural light, providing shelter and protection for rescuers.”

Window locations have been carefully determined to provide lifeguards with optimum beach supervision and the low maintenance materials are designed to withstand the extreme West Coast environment.

The United North Piha Lifeguard Service is currently funding Te Pou, its new lodge, which is expected to begin construction later this year.

Te Pae, by Crosson Architects, is one of 15 New Zealand projects to have shortlisted the 2022 World Architecture Festival’s 420 international projects for a WAF award in their Completed Buildings category. The winner will be announced at the live event later in the year.


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