It used to be that “take it easy” was the most often heard phrase around a beach town. Nothing overwrought or too emphatic. It was just a phrase that somehow perfectly captured the vibe of living by the ocean and gauging time by the tides.

Despite some societal evidence to the contrary, beach living was always meant to be easy-going. Perhaps shacking up next to the ocean, one of the most powerful forces in nature, keeps our egos in check. A little simplicity and a whole lot of sunshine and saltwater are good for the soul. And that’s exactly the feeling you get from the offSET Shed House, in Gisborne, New Zealand.

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Designed by Irving Smith Architects, the offSET Shed embodies the relaxed mentality. Inspired by “bach” huts, which are the Kiwi version of small, simple holiday homes, it has 1,000 square-feet of completely unpretentious indoor living space. A central patio is formed by strategically placed buildings that are positioned to provide shade and wind protection in summer, and allow warm sun to flood the interior of the house in winter. Above all, the house is designed to draw you outdoors. With a modern twist, it’s an ode to the basic earth elements of metal (corrugated steel exterior), wood (flowing throughout the home with linear appeal), water (windows and doors open to the ocean), and fire. Okay, maybe not so much fire.

Particularly cool is how well the offSET Shed fits in with its community. Gisborne is a south-facing beach on New Zealand’s North Island, with reliable surf. The homes are right on the sand, with nothing overpowering or ostentatious to detract from the far more impressive expanse of blue out the front. It is the definition — or at least one defintion — of consummate beach town ease.

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Weekend Cabin isn’t necessarily about the weekend, or cabins. It’s about the longing for a sense of place, for shelter set in a landscape…for something that speaks to refuge and distance from the everyday. Nostalgic and wistful, it’s about how people create structure in ways to consider the earth and sky and their place in them. It’s not concerned with ownership or real estate, but what people build to fulfill their dreams of escape. The very time-shortened notion of “weekend” reminds that it’s a temporary respite.

Photos by Patrick Reynolds

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