House of the week: Waiheke

Last updated 05:00 13/11/2013

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An Auckland couple wanted a Waiheke Island bach where they could share summers with their children and grow memories reminiscent of their own childhood experiences: those long, slow and lazy family summers.

The bach they envisaged simply didn't exist. So, as an alternative, they bought a bach that was once the Onetangi post office and store, hired Herbst architects and renovated, altered and added.

The resulting "new" bach delivers on the brief: with architectural integrity, a sense of warmth, significant outdoor living, a structure that maximises views, a contemporary look and relaxed living.

"We stripped the building back to its original ground-floor block walling, reclad the first floor with black ply and a natural cedar rain screen of battens, giving the facade depth and detail. The roof was reclad with dark tin, like the black ply, referencing the old building," architect Nicky Herbst says.

"A double-height pergola at the front satisfies the programmatic requirement of a garage and outdoor spaces on both floors, as well as giving the building a street presence."

At ground level there's a large rumpus room, guest bedroom, bunk room, storage and laundry. Bi-fold doors open to a paved front yard, with a line of gabions that define the edge and double as seating. An outdoor shower is adjacent to an exterior stair that connects the ground to the upper main living.

"We believe that a beach house does not need a front door. The stair which deposits you onto the living deck allows you to move directly through an expansive opening into the open plan living area."

The deck is part roofed, with bi-fold cedar-battened and fibreglass-panelled shutters providing wind protection.

"The fibreglass sheets have a lovely light quality, the light bleeds through," Nicky says, "the master bedroom also has shutters for privacy. At night the sliding windows can be open and the shutters closed with the sound of the sea floating up."

An internal stair at the back of the house affords another option to connect the two levels. The kitchen fenestration with high-level windows and a roof light ensure plenty of light flows in from the south, and that views of the hillside behind are visible.

The kitchen bench morphs into a dining-room table. The need for a separate dining space internally is nullified by the fact that most meals are eaten outside on the deck, Nicky says.

"We rejigged the roof structure to slope the ceilings and get more height in the living area. From the living you step down one step onto the deck. The depressed deck means that there is less obstruction of the view by the balustrade."

Today the "new" bach sits comfortably against the pohutukawa and lawn, fit for the making of family memories, as requested.


Size: 320 square metres

Build cost: More than $1 million.

Architects: Herbst Architects

Builder: Ian Riggans, Auckland

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Engineer: Bruce McNaughton, McNaughton Consulting Engineers

Materials: Cedar, plywood, plastered block work, gabions, aluminium joinery, colour steel roof, Tasmanian oak flooring, treated pine, Kwila decking.

Energy efficiency: Good airflow, insulation in the walls, roof and underfloor, open fires inside and outside, ancillary wall-mounted heaters in bedrooms.

Done right: "Nothing fell short of our expectations. We've got a sensational deck and the design of the living from the inside out to the deck means we live straight from the in to the outer in the summer," explains the owner. 

Done wrong: "Either we briefed well or, and this is far more likely, the architects did a fantastic job because we tell guests, repeatedly, we just can't find anything we feel fell short of our expectations." 

Unexpected: "How happy we were, we somehow expected we'd get to the end and something would have been done differently, so all credit to Lance and Nicky."

Recommend: "It's very important to pick professionals who personally have an empathy and understanding for what you want."

Next time: "It was a lot of fun but I can't imagine doing this again because we are so happy with what we've got and the idea was to form a bach that is and will continue to be an integral parts of our kids' memories." 

- © Fairfax NZ News


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