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McKenzie Bach

Location: McKenzie Bay, Whangarei Heads

Type: New Build

Floor Area: 90m2

Contractor: Bryce Thorn Builders

Completed: 2022

Photography: Doug Pearson Photography

Designed for a retired woman with a large extended family and keen mid-century design eye. The brief called for a special place that could create intergenerational memories, as well as be a comfortable dwelling for one person. It was to be simple, informal with minimal impact on neighbours views and properties. Utilising existing use rights meant the new bach could maintain its privileged position overlooking the bay.  


The steep south facing site receives all day sun on its landward side. Cold winter winds prevail from the seaward side. With stunning views over McKenzie Bay, Calliope Island and across the Whangarei Harbour mouth to Ruakaka. The existing site infrastructure; vehicle access, retaining walls and outbuildings were to be retained as much as possible. 


Conceived as a simple low-slung gable roof form straddling the contour overlooking the bay. Reinforced by the exposed laminated timber ridge beam/spine which sets up two distinct sides to the house, sun and sea. A section of the roof in the living area is ‘popped up’ to the north to add internal height and allow winter sun deep into the house. Automatic clerestory windows allow summer passive stack ventilation. 


The house needed to be transparent particularly from the sunny northern outdoor spaces, so that sea views could be enjoyed year round even on cold winter days. The seaward deck was retained exactly as it was, given it was positioned where it would not be permitted to build again, set down to allow unimpeded views from the house. The living space features built-in joinery and a window seat bathed in winter sun and shaded from summer sun. The living end of the house can be opened to suit the prevailing conditions. An operable louvre roof provides summer shade and covered and uncovered outdoor spaces. Bedrooms have stunning sea views. The master suite is positioned for privacy at the eastern end of the house. Wet areas open onto an outdoor utility area with outdoor shower and fish clean. An additional sleep out for extra guests is positioned further up the site linked by landscape stairs.    


Clad in ABODO Vulcan thermally modified timber cladding in both vertical and horizontal profiles and ABODO screening. The interior features Gaboon plywood ceiling linings and joinery, white oak floors and laminated timber posts and beams. Paint finished plasterboard is used to offset the warmth of the timber. 


Environmental credentials include; double glazing, high levels of thermal insulation, passive solar heating, passive ventilation/cooling (cross and stack ventilation), compact plan form and extensive use of timber and engineered wood products.    

"Jeff designed a beach house which meets and exceeds all the requirements of the brief. Others in the small beachside community are pleased with the way the house sits in the bay, and clever design features enable everyone from young families, teenagers, to older friends to enjoy their stay. (Yet feels the perfect size when I am alone.) The sloping site and proximity to the coast added challenges however the necessary consents were obtained quickly as a result of Jeff's careful preparation, and network of good consultants. He used his knowledge of the area and local weather patterns to ensure there are outdoor areas to enjoy throughout the year, with comfortable temperatures and ventilation when indoors - and included a view from every room. I am very happy with the result! His excellent listening and communication skills, combined with quiet efficiency and an easy friendly manner made the whole project enjoyable and stress free (even through the restrictions of a pandemic!). I would definitely work with him again, and recommend him 100%."


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