Flash Bach

Text — Jo Bates Pho­tog­ra­phy — Tash Hop­kins

HOME Magazine NZ - - As Good As New -

Ger­rad Hall up­dates an 80s bach on Auck­land’s west coast us­ing its same lan­guage.

There’s no big re­veal here. A hum­ble beach home sits on a flat site on an un­sealed shared-ac­cess road scat­tered with dwellings that have hap­pened among the pōhutukawa. These ac­ci­den­tal Kiwi-style build­ings ex­press a lan­guage the own­ers wanted to re­spect. “Ar­chi­tec­turally, you might de­scribe it as quite a stan­dard house,” says ar­chi­tect Ger­rad Hall, of the ren­o­va­tion at Bethells Beach on Auck­land’s west coast. “The chal­lenge was to do some­thing that spoke the same lan­guage as the orig­i­nal 80s home.” Such a sen­si­tive ap­proach may not have hap­pened early on in Hall’s ca­reer, when he was busy evolv­ing his own style. Un­til he re­alised the lim­i­ta­tions of this sin­gu­lar ap­proach. “I had a sea change of try­ing to re­ally lis­ten and re­ally think about how each project could evolve based on the brief and site and the pos­si­bil­i­ties,” he says. That level of lis­ten­ing means it’s hard to tell where the 80s gen­uinely be­gins and ends in this ren­o­va­tion. “My clients re­ally liked the ex­ist­ing house – they liked its sim­plic­ity and hu­mil­ity: at­tributes that at­tracted them to Bethells, which is a lit­tle bit down­beat and a big jum­ble of work,” says Hall. The own­ers, a doc­tor and an artist with two young chil­dren, didn’t want a flashy al­ter­ation, or some­thing that came across as boasty – though they did want to re­solve the ex­ter­nal ac­cess across a deck to one of the bed­rooms and the tiny, hot mez­za­nine up­stairs. There’s noth­ing too glitzy in the re­sult, which added 30 square me­tres of ex­tra space, new decks and a util­ity shed. Down­stairs, Hall cadged ex­tra space by squar­ing off the back wall. He moved the front door, then cre­ated a proper en­try and new hall lead­ing to the bed­rooms, bathroom, laun­dry, and kitchen/liv­ing ar­eas. He also added a new stair lead­ing up­stairs – with pe­riod tim­ber de­tails, nat­u­rally – and ex­tended the mez­za­nine to cre­ate a proper bed­room, bathroom and study. But it’s in the kitchen where it gets head­scratch in­ter­est­ing. Bright yel­low Formica bench­tops run along two walls and in­clude a sink in each. It could be an orig­i­nal fea­ture – but it’s not. Un­der­foot, the orig­i­nal Strand­board floor­ing re­veals weath­ered patches and leads to a small, square lounge be­neath a pitched, high stud. The modest foot­print of the liv­ing area is orig­i­nal. “It’s dif­fer­ent from what you would nor­mally do,” says Hall. “It throws you out of that typ­i­cal for­mula that peo­ple can quite eas­ily roll out. I like the idea that a smaller space can per­haps com­press peo­ple to­gether.” Step­ping from the liv­ing room to the deck and lawn re­veals the fi­nal sig­nif­i­cant ad­di­tion – the deck up­stairs. It pro­vides an­other en­ter­tain­ing spot, as well as shade down­stairs, and it sets the main bed­room back from the blis­ter­ing sum­mer sun. From the front of the house, there’s no hint of this popped-up-and-out ad­di­tion, but its pro­file is dis­tinct at the back. “It looks like some­thing from Tor­bay in the 80s,” says Hall. “Again, that was kind of the de­sire.” “We wanted to keep the bits of the house we re­ally liked,” says one of the own­ers. “It was a build­ing that clearly had a lot of thought put into it – al­though we didn’t agree with all the orig­i­nal con­clu­sions.” By en­gag­ing with the 80s and keep­ing or reusing as many of the orig­i­nal ma­te­ri­als as pos­si­ble, Hall has reached fresh con­clu­sions. And with up­grades that in­clude so­lar pan­els and qual­ity dou­ble glazing, the house will en­dure into the decades ahead – long enough for the “hol­i­day yel­low” Formica bench­top to have its day in the sun once again.

—A one-way bridge at the west-coast set­tle­ment of Bethells Beach. —Hall re­or­gan­ised the home’s cir­cu­la­tion with a new hall and a stair­way lead­ing to bed­rooms. —While the foot­print of the liv­ing area is com­pact, the ceil­ing pitch lends height. —The...

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