The Family Bach by Cymon Allfrey Architects in Hanmer Springs, New Zealand

Project: The Family Bach
Architects: Cymon Allfrey Architects
Location: Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
Area: 1,356 sq ft
Photographs by: Stephen Goodenough

The Family Bach by Cymon Allfrey Architects

Cymon Allfrey Architects have designed The Family Bach project as a cluster of three wood cabins united by a communal courtyard. Their idea was to put an emphasis on outdoor living while protecting the privacy of the inhabitants at the same time.
Each of the cabins has their own purpose, the main one being dedicated for the living areas, flanked by a similar structure housing the bedroom suite. Finally, the last cabin is dedicated to storage and additional sleeping areas. But the spotlight of this project shines on the courtyard formed by a deck with a sunken patio with a dining table, benches, a barbecue and a hot tub.

Nestled in a semi-rural corner of Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury, our retreat was conceived as an inter-generational family asset. Similar to establishing a campsite, the architecture deliberately challenges our understanding of a dwelling to engage the family in a manner of living that fosters the qualities of holiday making. Decorated and furnished using objects we found and loved, this retreat is crafted for memory making.

The architectural program organizes three structures around a communal outdoor space. Each building allows for a degree of independent living, yet their casual relationship encourages groups to come together socially. Surrounding an elevated dining platform and a sunken terrace, the forms interpret the township’s alpine setting using height, volume, and pitch to create dynamic changes in scale as one navigates between buildings.

A hierarchy has been established giving the highest priority to the elevated deck which projects toward the rural boundary receiving the late sun and the south-westerly views across the Hanmer Plain to the Tekoa Range drawing the inhabitants outdoors and into the view. The larger of the three buildings contains an open plan living space and a bedroom separated by a bathroom and utility area. A small kitchen casually wraps a vintage dining table encouraging the social values of the traditional ‘eat in’ kitchen.

A covered external corridor provides both summer solar protection to the main building and weather protection linking to a second building. This second building contains a multi-use room (with fold-down bed) and another sleeping space separated by a bathroom and a small kitchenette. Towering to the north like the needle of a sundial lies a third building (affectionally named ‘The Folly’). A firewood store sits below a small bunkroom which is accessed from the terrace via metal stair.

Timber has been used extensively to bring honesty, warmth, and cohesion to the material palate. The prefabricated glue-laminated portals and cross-laminated wall and roof panels keep the family amused during the winter nights searching for the many faces within the scattering of knots. Externally, the unfinished cedar ‘folly’ offers a counterpoint to the dark stained cedar of the primary buildings, weathering over time as the family ages alongside it.

Selected as a cheeky response to the township planning design guidelines, externally the various forms, textures, and colors are unified by a single color (Canary Yellow). This color has been applied to a strict rule where it identifies elements that are not subject to the township design guidelines. It draws from the seasonal colors of the Broom covered hills and the autumnal tones of the turning trees as a direct response to the semi-rural setting.

North facing Photovoltaic Cells together with low energy fittings aid in reduced operating costs. The low-mass structure allows the home to be quickly brought up to temperature on a winters evening while being more responsive in the summer. A geometric concrete mass surrounds a log burner helping moderate the internal environment.

Cymon Allfrey Architects


Tags: backyard, cabin, contemporary, courtyard, Cymon Allfrey Architects, deck, family bach, hanmer springs, hot tub, modern, New Zealand, patio, sunken, the family bach, tub, wood, wooden, yard

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