These three baches defy conventional design. One thing, in particular, they have in common is no bedrooms. Scroll down to see more
1. Pic’s Not-a-house
When Pic Picot engaged architect Julian Mitchell to design something for his holiday section at Mārahau, he told him straight: he didn’t want a house. No house at all. Not an unassuming bach, or a discreet retreat. No bedrooms, even. “If we’d built a house, the first thing we were going to think was, ‘Oh, I used to like it when we had the caravans,’ you know?”
Picot, a late-blooming caravan fancier, has a fleet of three, including the vintage Nomad that began his infatuation. They’ve all been parked on the property, one street back from the beach, since he bought it five years ago because it seemed “quite a good place to put them”.
Picot had no greater strategy in mind than to share Mārahau’s still relatively undeveloped, laidback summer charms with friends and family. When the idea of instigating something more substantial on the section took hold, it was framed by the need to sustain that camping mode – to tether the caravans to an organising element rather than replace them with bricks and mortar.
The brief was really that simple, says Mitchell, of Auckland-based Mitchell Stout Dodd Architects. “Pic said, ‘I love these caravans, I love this place, and I just want to have a bit more communal space for people to meet – and a boatshed.’ The idea was of a hub that can plugin however many caravans or campervans or people in tents arrive – like a campground.”
2. The tiniest Great Barrier bach
One day, the family that owns this land will build a beautiful little bach designed by Nicola and Lance Herbst. It will be carefully placed in the trees and reached by a bridge over the stream and a long timber boardwalk to protect the roots of the trees. There’s a walk through the trees to a sheltered sandy beach.
In the meantime, the family asked the Herbsts to design what the architects think may be their smallest project to date: a utility shed and a 6sqm deck, which the family unfolds and unpacks in the manner of a Swiss army knife when they get there, and then lock up securely while they’re away.
There’s a kitchen area on one side, sheltered by a big door that lifts up to become a roof, supported by stainless-steel poles. On the other side, a storage cupboard and shower room whose doors unfold to create a private shower area. (There’s a long drop across the lawn.)
For now, it’s a pure distillation of everything you need and nothing you don’t. “All they do is arrive and set up tents,” says Nicola Herbst. “It’s practicality. Where are you going to cook the crayfish and where are you going to gut the fish and where are you going to set up your services?”
3. Camping re-imagined
Peggy Deamer spent her first summer in New Zealand fascinated with tents. She’d moved here from New York City to teach architecture at the University of Auckland, and immediately become intrigued by the way people treated tents as BYO bedrooms during their holidays. When searching for a site to build her holiday retreat, architect Peggy Deamer pitched up above the Kaipara Harbour – drawn by the sense that the area felt remote but not isolated.
The decision to put up tents on the deck instead of permanent accommodation came from Peggy’s Kiwi friends, who described to her their Christmas visits to baches as one of bringing tents and camping on the beach. And, since she didn’t have flat land, if friends were to come and visit, she knew she’d have to build a platform for them to put their tents.
The spacious tents are simply and comfortably kitted out with airbeds – and electric blankets for the cooler months.
Words by: Matt Philp, Simon Farrell-Green, Jeremy Hansen. Photography by: Lucas Doolan, Jackie Meiring, Simon Devitt.