At 1200 square metres, this Bay of Islands ‘bach’ is a big dose of A-grade holiday home
Q&A with architect Pete Bossley
The trend these days seems to be for small houses. This isn’t one of them.
I think small houses are great. The ability to live in smaller houses is something that is coming upon us, certainly in urban situations, and I’m all for it. Then again, people’s requirements are different. The clients have a generous attitude and lots of people come to stay at once, so I don’t have any kind of value judgement on it in that regard.
I also think that a lot of what is lauded for being small in terms of saving the planet is actually kind of champagne austerity and what we are looking at are houses where the square metre costs are huge, so there’s less of it, maybe, but it’s still a pretty extravagant building. I always play devil’s advocate on this one.
But it’s a bach!
Nobody’s built a bach in this country for decades. It’s a nostalgic notion that we call something a bach when it’s obviously not. These are full-on houses. A bach used to be built from borrowed materials off someone else’s land, no insulation, no views, because the windows are too small and someone had torn the last page out of the Agatha Christie novel on the bookshelf.
They were damp and uncomfortable, but wonderful because it was a kind of expression in a democratic society in a way that nothing else was. I think it’s an interesting subject. I don’t have any sense of righteousness that small is the only option.
What do you like most about the project?
The delicacy of the roof. The appearance of it having landed softly like a dried leaf. I think we pulled that off. It could have become quite clunky if we weren’t careful, but we managed to keep it quite slender. The way the light bounces off the ceiling is really beautiful.
Words by: Aimie Cronin. Photography by: Simon Devitt.