From 'a weathered sea shell' to a 'playful part hut, part fort', the Coromandel's beach settlements have dominated a top architectural award this year.

Five housing category award winners for the 2020 Waikato and Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards are located in the Coromandel.

The Hill House at Hahei, designed by Felicity Wallace architects, is a contemporary pole house that is "playful and surprising – part fort and part tramper's hut", the jury said.

Hot Water Beach House by Scarlet Architects is a house "successfully organised around a triangular courtyard flanked by verandas and a central breezeway and intended to ensure flexible multi-generational occupancy".

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With Hikuai Hill House, Dorringon Atcheson Architects have made "excellent use of a spectacular site" to produce a home that is "a compact and faithful expression of the clients' ideals".

Light Mine is a house on the Kuaotunu Coast designed by Crosson Architects with the region's history in mind.

"Three separate living spaces are unified by uniquely sculptural, off-grid skylights that reference the mine shafts of this former gold-mining area," the jury noted.

Near Waihi Beach, the Bowentown Bach designed by Edwards White Architects presents a weathered shell to the street, but inside "a warm, honeyed living space looks out to the dunes and sea".

Edwards White Architects also won an award for their Kinloch Bach, which the jury said takes "a stripped-back approach to contemporary bach comforts and conventions" while providing warm social spaces.

Awards jury convener Tauranga architect John Henderson said the jury were encouraged by a growing emphasis on building quality.

"It was great to visit warm, healthy buildings that embody the best of sustainable design practices."

Two awards were made in the Small Project Architecture category. The jury said Ao Marama Retreat near Katikati, designed by OPL and Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects, is "a truly rustic retreat that invokes the collective Kiwi memory of remote huts and simple comfort".

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Chemis Cabin, Rotorua, by DCA Architects of Transformation is a highly compact little building that is "nestled unobtrusively into a lush native bush environment".

The 2020 Waikato / Bay of Plenty Architecture Awards is a programme of Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects, supported by Resene.