Bach Bach

Classical musicians are trained in nuance – searching for colour and meaning in their musical tone and expression – as well as in the building blocks of rhythm, pitch and dynamics. This house for an opera singer and her husband takes elements of the Bach Oboe Concerto – a favourite piece of music – and reflects this in the cladding and lining elements which form a part of their daily interaction with the spaces.

The house is sited on a rural site in Raglan near to the inlet. The couple requested comfortable but bach-style living, with natural, low-maintenance materials throughout and the warmth of timber. Natural cedar was selected, allowed to weather on the exterior and oiled on the interior to maintain the natural warmth and colour. The exterior is wrapped in vertical battens laid out to the rhythmic structure of a selected phrase of the concerto. The interior linings appear at first glance to be ‘hit-and-miss’ vertical battens, but the apparently random texture reflects the pitch and rhythm of the same phrase – the singer can ‘read’ the texture and sing the notes of the theme.

Within the spaces are sensuous elements which satisfy the musician’s need for colour and texture – a rough shuttered concrete fireplace dominates one end of the double-height music room, contrasting with the warmth of polished floors and rugs, timber ceiling panelling, paintwork and the central focus of a gleaming grand piano.

The house is designed for the owners and frequent guests – a family wing for the couple with bedrooms over the living space and a double height music room, connected by a gallery to a separate guest wing with three double bedrooms. A warm and welcoming retreat, this house provides a venue for music-making and appreciation as a part of daily living.

— NZIA Award 2016 / Waikato Bay of Plenty

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