Rawhiti Bach, Northland
This bach is located in Rawhiti, a small, peaceful, subtropical seaside settlement made up of a sparse scattering of dwellings. As the client's family has grown and as more friends take up the invitation to come and stay, the bach required an extension that would supply extra bedrooms and bathrooms and that would also fit into the low-key, unpretentious approach to house design that characterises the area.
In order to provide the extra space required and to protect the views into the site, a new structure containing extra bedrooms and bathrooms has been buried into the hillside next to the existing bach. A kind of optional, self-contained extension to the bach is thereby created, which can be used when required and closed up when not needed, as if the space were sealed back into the hill. Its humble, bunker-like design is also in keeping with the unassuming character of the Rawhiti area. The half-buried form of the new structure defers to the geographical qualities of the area, which is characterised by low rolling hills covered in a mixture of grass and rambling clusters of kanuka and manuka.
As well as providing extra room, the sleepout offers a cool, meditative retreat from the communal noise and bustle of the main bach. Set into a simple concrete shell, sliding timber louvres, angled to echo the slant of the hillside, allow the rooms inside to be opened up to the afternoon sun or shielded from its glare in the middle of the day. Timber panelling curves from the entrance through into the inner walls of the house, effortlessly connecting indoor and outdoor. Inside, the use of light is almost sculptural, with a long hall skylight filtering daylight into the cellular rooms and creating geometric expanses of light across the concrete walls.
The new sleepout also frames and activates a space between the two buildings, creating an outdoor area that is left deliberately relaxed and unformed, where spontaneous gatherings can occur.