Mangawhai Heads, Northland
There’s a quiet to being ‘up north, at the bach,’ where time seems to move slowly, moments are more intimate, and we are more mindful and present in a rush of relaxation. A home away from home concept where architecture acts unfettered, a shelter to gather, providing us with simple luxuries, a conscious escape from city-life reality into nature.
This family bach hovers slightly on the land, facing north towards the tail end of the Brynderwyn Hills, Hen and Chicken Islands, ‘Big Sand Dune’ at Mangawhai and Little Barrier Island. The surrounding land is cloaked with local Kanuka trees, a dark bark of the Mangawhai Peninsula, mimicked by the exterior dark stained ply cladding and cedar battens rhythmically sequenced on the external skin of the rectangular forms – as if the house is the architectural imagination of the surrounding forest’s collective heartbeat.
Inside, spaces are ambiguous and free-flowing, boundaries no longer exist. We are warmly embraced by familiar ply walls and ceilings, soft concrete and timber finishes. The enclosure is continuously breathing out through large openings of sliding doors and clear roofing. In the outdoor room, the landscape melts inside through the garage-door-sized sectional panels folding up and above you. This open inbetween space reflects the family’s relaxed and carefree way of living, where they spend their days and nights with communal gathering area for big family meals or spontaneous accommodations for unexpected guests.
Our aim was to create spaces where the environment is continuously welcomed into the home, tunnel-vision through the house into the landscapes beyond. Crest house became our interpretation of the essence of the classic kiwi bach, of how spaces can flow with an ease that spark togetherness and slow moments of lazy long weekends.
Photography by David Straight