The site is a standard suburban plot replacing a 1950’s house, one street back from Friars Cliff beach, near Christchurch. The clients’ design brief was for a retirement house that could be comfortably occupied at ground level, but can then expand when family arrive to stay by the use of first floor bedrooms. We began with the idea of creating a ‘courtyard’ plan that allowed an open plan living space to straddle the site, roughly aligning with the rearmost neighbouring building. A single storey building facing the street wraps a contained courtyard – front and rear are then connected by a service wing to the eastern side – this arrangement opens up the house to the sun and creates a calm central court that catches the sun. The lower volume is clad in an insulated external acrylic render to pick up on the seaside vocabulary of ‘white’ buildings, while the upper volume is clad in western red cedar boarding. The overall impression is intended to be that of a low white base, with a lighter, floating ‘box’ set back from the road. A large brick chimney anchors the building to the site.