Assembly Architects’ challenge was was to design a modern family house that still felt and looked like a ‘bach’ for the clients – city professionals with young children – whose extended family had baches in the existing settlement. The flat grassy site is in a recent subdivision in an established seaside community in Hawkes Bay. It fronts a grassy reserve dotted with mature cabbage trees, edged by a stream, with dramatic seacliffs beyond that extend to the east coast beach.
The site is subject to constant sea breezes and intense summer heat, so the goal was to position the house to maximise views and amenity, minimise the impact of the wind and provide options to escape the summer sun. The clients wanted an ‘open door’ feel to the house for the locals while maintaining privacy to the bedrooms. The remote location further challenged Assembly to devise a construction of primarily simple carpentry to minimise the journeys of tradespeople, equipment and materials. At the time of designing, the sites were vacant. Assembly’s solution was to create public and private wings connected by a service link containing laundry, toilet, and bathroom with adjacent outside shower and fish bench. The private wing contains a bunk room which sleeps 8, a guest room with space for a cot, and the clients bedroom which has a tiny yet private ensuite with shower, basin and toilet. The public wing fronts the reserve and contains an open plan living room, kitchen and dining area and a separate tv den. The lounge features a corner window seat, built in joinery and a fireplace with insitu concrete hearth and the dining area connects to external decks each side – with the reserve side deck protected by a folded canopy wall to defend against sun and wind.
The judges citation for the NZIA 2011 GISBORNE HAWKES BAY ARCHITECTURE AWARD reads: The house stands out on arrival as the most interesting built form in the vicinity. The crisp twin boxes are carefully placed on the site and maximise the views while taking the elements into account. The living spaces open up fully to a large expanse of decking which relates to the views but at the same time provides some privacy from the neighbouring sections. Together, the materials chosen are an excellent selection for the location, and ease of construction was achieved through the Architects very comprehensive set of three dimensional drawings. The wings are wedge forms in both plan and section. This allow the the bunk room and lounge to occupy the larger areas, and provide drama in the articulation of the vertical window box and slot window. The wedge forms are clad in locally sourced Macrocarpa boards which have now silvered off, and contrast with the white mini-orb soffit and the painted metal flashings. The clients contributed to the interior design with refurbished industrial light fittings, Orla Kiely fabrics and bold colours for all interior doors.
The home is also featured in the book “Big House, Small House“.