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the ehouse experiment

The project brief for this bach emphasised a relaxed and nostalgic feel.

Chosen for its drama as well as its seclusion, this weekend retreat is nestled amongst a grove of Redwood trees and lush native forest at the edge of a tidal estuary within North Cove of Kawau Island. The form of the bach responds not only to the site, but to the opportunities of passive solar design, controlling internal temperature throughout the seasons. The construction is extensively insulated and the CLT floors provide thermal mass to assist in providing an even internal temperature throughout the year.

Black bach exterior

The project brief emphasised a relaxed and nostalgic feel. Client memories of their childhood holidays were at the Hahei camping ground in their orange caravan with the brown and orange awning. These were the best of times and therefore this bach had to give a nod to the old caravan days. They didn't need lots of rooms, just enough space for the family to hang comfortably out all year round.

Black and orange bach exterior

In a nod to the orange, the front deck enclosure is finished in Resene Lumbersider low sheen waterborne paint in bold Resene Hyperactive, which contrasts against the Ironsand cladding and the retaining walls and soffits in Resene Woodsman English Walnut. The steel supporting structure is finished in black with Resene Armourcote 512.

Bach deck

Relaxing bach exterior

This nod to childhood memories is very much a part of subconscious relaxation and fun. Orange is prominent around Kawau Island in the cliffs surrounding the island and the fine gravel sand in and around the tidal inlets. The darker wall claddings emulate the tall and slender trunks of the Kanuka trees within the site and extensively across the island. The black steel structure makes the bach appear to float above the ground. The other structures of the back are constructed of weathered hardwood materials to blend into the environment.

Lakehouse bach

Being located on an Island meant that all materials and building components had to be barged to site and on one occasion a helicopter was required to transport materials onto site. Building on an island meant the whole team needed to think differently about how the building would be built, establishing a balance between what could be lifted with the equipment at hand and minimising excessive reliance on labour to carry materials and components from the beach to the building platform. It was an opportunity to explore alternate building systems to fulfil these requirements, hence 'The ehouse experiment'.

Wooden bach interior

The structure is very compact, measuring just 7 x 12 metres and a modern take on the studio bach but still providing all the necessary accommodation and living. Living areas spill out to perimeter decks and glamping platforms. Light and simple materials are used throughout to create a relaxed feel. Pine plywood wall and ceiling linings, Birch cabinetry and recycled Matai panelling provide the canvas to the space.

Retro bach kitchen

The interior walls are whitewashed with window joinery in Resene Black White and feature panels in Resene Enamacryl gloss waterborne enamel in hues of Resene Morning Glory, Resene Mantle and Resene Highball. Cabinetry is clear finished in Resene Qristal Clear polyurethane.

Bright bach lounge

Orange bach deck

Although the materials are basic, they offer depth of visual interest and tactility with the warm tones of the wood as a backdrop to the collected 50s furniture and furnishings. Eliminating floor joists and implementing a CLT floor was a very simple decision to make as a starting point. Corrugated stainless steel water tanks were essential from a design point of view to emphasise the self-sufficiency of the nostalgic bach or tramper's hut.

Wooden bach dining room

Bach interior decorations

Many baches start with a brief which emphasises a difference to their city house. Most fail, very rarely is this realised and a city house is disappointingly replicated. The kiwi bach is becoming a rare thing. This project is about nostalgia, holidays like when you were a kid, wet togs on the floor and games of scrabble around the table after dinner.

Architectural specifier: ICR Studio Limited
Building contractor: Sibbing Builders Limited
Client: Shaw Thing Trust
Photographer: Alex Wallace
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2020

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