Pilot Bay Apartments

The clients of this apartment building were repeat clients for whom DCA Architects had undertaken a successful major house renovation several years earlier. The site was one of only a few original baches on the highly sought after and valuable Mt Maunganui beach peninsula. The plot is south facing, but enjoyed views over the ports, back to Tauranga city and around to the Mountain on the west.

The brief was complex on many levels: Town planning had strict setback and height recession planes. The area was renowned for archaeological discoveries; therefore, an archaeologist would need to be on-site for the duration of excavation. The peninsula is low lying, and minimum floor levels were set well above the current natural ground level. The external finishes of the apartments needed to consider the coastal location, with lower maintenance.

The initial challenge to the program was achieving the required floor plates within the restrictions. A three-level building to fit within the height plane needed a ground floor below the flood level. To maximise the apartment areas, the building needed to ‘wedding cake’ from the north and west to stay within the recession planes. To achieve the flood level, DCA and the engineers developed the site as a bund, where the external concrete fence would act as a barricade and the driveway access would rise to flood level and back down into the garage. A pump system was installed to pump any on-site water out, in the event of a storm surge.

The ground level is a concrete podium with the upper two levels a steel superstructure to transfer the eccentric loads from the stepping recession plane design. The building form is dictated and conforming to the maximum planning rules. One of the benefits of this conformity was the amount of external decks afforded, and the ability for many of the rooms to connect with outdoors.

Large sliding shutters with operable louvres run the entire length of the western façade, allowing the occupants control of the invasive western sun. The southern end of the apartments, adjacent to the street, have automated external louvre blinds which affords privacy control to the apartment living areas.

External claddings and finishes have been chosen for their ability to withstand the harsh coastal climate. High specification powder-coated aluminium weatherboards are selected in a three-tone variation to mimic the softness and warmth of a wooded finish, complemented with aluminium composite panels and plaster claddings. DCA Architects designed the front fence to allow sightlines out and soften the aesthetic with wave-inspired steel fins cantilevering from the concrete plinth.