Just Add Water
André Hodgskin Architects of New Zealand designs a vacation house kit.
Abby Bussel -- Interior Design, 6/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
PREFABRICATING SECOND HOMES isn't exactly a new idea. Check out the chalets in Vermont or Wyoming's log cabins. But New Zealand architect André Hodgskin has given a fresh twist to that long-established custom of nostalgic design, the romance of the weekend getaway. He's created a modernist holiday house plan that, with its universal language of flat roof and sliding glass walls, would make any mid-century groupie feel right at home. In fact, Hodgskin's "bach-kit"—so named for local "bachs," or makeshift bachelor pad retreats first popularized in the 1920s—and the prefabrication of some of its building components would be at home on almost any site, sandy or otherwise.
The 1,044-sq.-ft. model showhouse, which opened late last year on Waiheke Island, has had 1,000 visitors, and eight "bachkits" have been sold to date. Not bad for an architect who established his business in the process of looking for an old bach to call his own. Motivated by the increasing cost of coastal property in New Zealand, Hodgskin saw a business opportunity: with a simple floorplan and several prefabricated components, his bachkit is conceived as a stylish, affordable, low-maintenance house to be sold and built by a single source. The bachkit is a collaboration between André Hodgskin Architects and engineer Holmes Consulting.
Capitalizing on New Zealanders' love of the outdoors, the architect designed a house, available in five variations, that blurs the line between inside and out. Influenced by Southern California architects such as Pierre Koenig and Albert Frey, the bachkit has a floating roof, with wide eaves and a wraparound wood deck flush with the floor. Floor-to-ceiling glass panels slide into wall cavities, opening the interior to the deck. A second skin of sliding corrugated-aluminum shutters, which also slide into the wall cavities, provides both security and privacy. The plan is organized into two sections: the main house contains two bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living/dining area; the adjacent guest pavilion contains a bedroom and a bathroom. The two spaces are linked by a single roof and separated by an open-air deck.
Built in nine weeks, the bachkit is meant to be efficient and economical in its construction. The use of mass-produced components such as bathrooms and wardrobes decreases the exigencies of on-site construction. Because many of the bachkits will be built in rural locations, where drinking water is not readily available, water is collected on the roof and stored in underground tanks below the house. With this attractive yet practical design, Hodgskin continues the traditions of his mid-century forebears.