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Along the waterfront

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A simple glass cube facing the canal provides a relaxedholiday base for two boat enthusiasts

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The Minimalist mantra of less is more remains as relevant as ever if you're looking for a low-maintenance holiday home with strong, clean lines.

The owners of this canal-side bach were drawn to this design style, says architect David Pawson of Peddle Thorp and Montgomery. They also wanted a self-contained guest area, so that visitors could use the bach when they were not there, without accessing the main living areas.

"Once we'd decided on a simple glass box, the rest of the design came together fairly quickly. We knew we wanted a grand living and entertainment area, and out of that came a high volume and open space," says Pawson. "We then had to figure out how to incorporate the guest area. In the end, it was clear that if we made some of the guest space two storeys high, we could create a better mass."

The result is an open, light-filled home. Inside, the main living area is supported by seven-metre high columns and large spans, rather than by structural bracing. A large glass wall can be pulled across to separate the guest and living wings.

"In some ways, the structure is more akin to a bridge than a domestic residence, and as everything is so pared back, we had to get the detailing right, down to the nth degree," he says.

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Double glazing forms the lower storey walls, with tinted green glass denoting the entrance. The double glazing, together with extra-thick insulation for the flat roof, helps to ensure that the home is warm in winter and cool in summer.

A simple material palette of honed and polished concrete, frosted glass and white paint underlines the home's pared-back structure, and operable louvres on the upper storey allow the owners to control light levels and maintain privacy. The overall effect is user-friendly and light, says the homeowner.

"We wanted visitors to be able to wear high heels and not worry about damaging the flooring, so we chose polished concrete, which is almost indestructible," she says.

"The colour scheme is light and bright, and to soften the starkness of the white walls we selected colourful vintage posters."

Another playful note is a bridge that leads nowhere. The steel, timber and glass construction starts from the master bedroom lobby area, traverses the double-height void and overlooks the lap pool and the street.

"It's as if you are on a diving board, or on the bow of a ship. From the street the bridge adds an element of surprise and interest, as people wonder what it is for," says Pawson.

Outside, a 25m-long lap pool follows the same clean, understated lines of the home.

"We wanted the water to be the feature, not the shape of the pool, so that you can see the play of the light on the water. The effect is magnificent, with the sky and clouds reflected below," says Pawson.

Landscaping around the home – an open and relatively flat greenfield site – is also understated and low-maintenance. Native palms introduce shade and bring a tropical feel to the bach.

"We wanted a rustic, dock-like feel, so we used rough pebble, river stones and railway sleepers."

First published date: 28 March 2008

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Credit List

Architect and landscape architect David Pawson, NZIA, Design at Home (Wellington)
Kitchen designer Malcorboy Design
Structural engineer Ian Smith & Partners
Roofing Equss Duo Torch on mineral membrane, from Complete Waterproofing
Tiling Jacobsens Creative Services
Wallcoverings Concrete block, gib plasterboard
Paints and varnishes Resene
Doors and windows Phoenix Aluminium
Blinds Electric Sunfilter roller blinds
Drapes Sunray Products
Furniture All by BoConcept except lounge suites, Forma, from Fifth Avenue
Kitchen cabinetry Alabaster, satin paint finish
Benchtops Quarella in Nova Blanco from Tile Warehouse
Splashback Painted glass from Metro Glass
Bathroom vanity Malcorboy Design
Bath Hoesch Foster, Franklin Plumbing
Flooring Tiling from Jacobsens Creative Services
Outdoor furniture Fifth Avenue
Paving Firth from Placemakers
Pool surround Ground concrete from AgrassConcrete Grinders
Landscaping supplies Goldstream Nurseries
Decking Aquila from Smith Timber
Outdoor cooking BBQ Factory
Plants Southern Palms from Pokeno and Goldstream Nurseries