Taieri Mouth Bach | Mason and Wales
This small beach house, or bach, sits on a sand dune near a fishing village at the mouth of the Taieri River on New Zealand’s South Island. “Bach” is a Kiwi term for a small vacation cottage of simple design and often handbuilt by the owner using inexpensive materials. When designing this modern version for his own family, architect Regan Johnston of Mason & Wales Architects took inspiration from the area’s original fishing huts and baches, giving the structure a straightforward gabled shape that would be quick and economical to build.
Updating the bach concept, Johnston included a fully-glazed end wall, which required a bit of slightly more complex engineering. Steel tension rods arranged in an X pattern keep the gable end from racking sideways when hit by high winds or an earthquake. The steel rods were chosen over other options so as to minimally obstruct the view.
Most of the 55 m2 (592 ft2) ground floor is taken up by an open-plan living area, part of which vaults all the way up to the roof ridge. Another wall is also mostly glass in the form of large sliding doors that open the living space to a wood patio and lawn on the sunny north side. At the back, behind the kitchen, are the bathroom, laundry and storage areas. There are two bedrooms upstairs in the mezzanine loft, one of which overlooks the living room and shares its view through the gable wall.
Like many of its predecessors, the interior of the Taieri Mouth Bach is finished using simple plywood paneling. The exterior is clad with lapped cedar boards, also a fairly traditional material choice. However the ends of the boards were aligned and covered with vertical trim pieces for a modern appearance.
If you’d like to vacation in a relatively undeveloped part of New Zealand, the Taieri Mouth Bach is available for rent.
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Photographs by Ewen Livingstone, courtesy of Mason & Wales Architects.
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