Parsonson Architects reinvigorate a “near decrepit” bach

23 February 2016

Parsonson Architects reinvigorate what was once the ‘ugliest house on the Kapiti Coast’. We catch up with architect Gerald Parsonson to talk about the renovation

Q&A with Gerald Parsonson of Parsonson Architects

When you visited the old bach, you realised you had your work cut out for you – why was that?
So many of last century’s houses were built with no consideration to their environs, so you end up with these suburban-style dwellings plonked next to the sea. The aim with Rob and Helen’s bach was to anchor it in its coastal setting, to use natural materials to create a relaxed home that family and friends love to visit.

What are key considerations when designing a house next to the sea? 
It’s important for a building to add positively to the spirit of a place as well as being a casual, relaxed and fun place to be. That doesn’t mean a boring suburban house or a slick, corporate edifice sitting on a sand dune. At a practical level, it’s important to use robust and non-corrosive materials.

How can good design minimise the impact of the notorious winds in Wellington and on the Kapiti Coast? 
It’s often windy and sunny at the same time, particularly in spring, and on the west coast the wind comes from the same direction as the view. There are several strategies: use well-placed layers of planting to filter and direct wind over the outside living spaces, use exterior slatted fences and structures to do the same, or plan the house with both west and east outside living spaces, with doors connecting both sides. When windy and sunny, you can sit on the east side, sheltered from the wind and in the sun, and still see through the house to the west views. Planting or slatted screening on the north and south ends of the house can stop wind whipping around to the east side.

What do you think every bach needs? 
An outside shower, an easy connection from inside to out, comfortable places to sit in and out of the sun and wind, and places to hole up with a good book. Parts of a house can be separated by the outside. Plan things to be robust and easy care. Less is often more. And it’s easy to play with colour in a bach.

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