Dream house: Paekakariki beach pad

17:00, Sep 18 2012
Paekak house 1
The raw aluminium zinaclume exterior cladding has aged into a dull finish, the ‘double skin’ of glazing creates a variety of lifestyle options.
Paekak house 2
The louvre windows are a hallmark of Atelierworkshop design. The use of yellow on the exterior highlights the veins of the surrounding puka leaves.
Paekak house 3
CD grade native pine plywood was chosen as lining for the interior walls, floors, ceilings and for the furniture. A solid fuel firebox effectiovely heats the bach.
Paekak house 4
Oversize doors open to decking. The dense foliage creates privacy and an ambiance befitting a beach bach.

A family beach bach on the sand hills in Paekakariki, north of Wellington, perfectly reflects the owner's brief for an unpretentious build that merges into the surrounds in a natural and private way.

Architects William Giesen and Cecile Bonnifait of Wellington's Atelierworkshop says the design echoes their ethos for architecture that "seeks to reveal the landscape and the environment through innovation and common sense, developed from a concern for forming one body with the site".

The family bought the site more than 20 years ago, holidaying in the original 1920s bach before finally deciding to build new.

Paekakariki house
FEEL THE SERENITY: The double skin front porch enables single glazing, allowing the sound of the sea to be heard in the house.

"We'd never built before, we just gave our requirement, three bedrooms, a bach feel, to accommodate just two people nicely, but work for two or more families when required, beyond that we were very vague about design and materials," says Trevor.

It's a tight 130 square metres of efficient space over two levels, with three bedrooms, a study, two bathrooms and open-plan living with a clever two skin frontal to the sea and the north west. The footprint extends a metre on each end beyond the original and the build works around two pohutukawas that were carefully pruned to fit.

The double skin enables single glazing and the sound of the sea, other joinery is double glazed. The louvres are an Atelierworkshop speciality; the owners say they enable easy control of heat during those hot Paekakariki summer months.


The zincalume cladding is in its raw state. While initially brilliant and shiny, it has now dulled and fits the surrounds, merging into the coastal foliage. Cecile Bonnifait's French touch is in the use of colour, including a gorgeous warm red that is a feature of the plywood bookcase that divides the living from kitchen and the doors.

The owners chose a yellow to feature outside, a colour that is reflected in the golden veins of surrounding puka leaves.

They initially didn't want a second level but the build is tall enough to accommodate a study and bedroom upstairs, which works well to provide privacy and separation for family members with young children. Old matai timber from the original bach has been recycled on connecting stairs between the levels, a meaningful tribute to the history of the site.

A small brick path from the original garden gate or a blue-chip compressed gravel drive lead guests to this beach bach, remarkable in its modesty.

The owners couldn't be happier with the result.

"It's easy to use, simple to go into and settle within a few minutes, it's peaceful."


PRICE BRACKET: Under $500,000

ARCHITECTS: Willam Giesen and Cecile Bonnifait, Atelierworkshop

BUILD SIZE: 130 square metres plus decks

MATERIALS: Zincalume, plywood, macrocarpa

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Double glazing, solid fuel heating with wetback

DONE RIGHT: The comfort of the place in terms of its feel, temperature and the way the temperature can be controlled and adjusted through the louvres.

DONE WRONG: We'd think twice about the material on the floor, plywood is so soft, if anything is dropped it leaves a mark. We had alternatives but we liked the idea of using one material internally.

UNEXPECTED: We hadn't realised the way the sun would come in, particularly in the winter, and reach to the back of the house even on chilly winter but sunny days.

RECOMMEND: Using an architect you're comfortable with, then trust their skills and instincts.

NEXT TIME: We'd use the same architect again and builders Duncan Construction Ltd of Raumati South - they were all great to work with.

The Dominion Post