Vantage Point – Bowentown Bach by Edwards White Architects
Bowentown, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
Nestled amid the sand dunes and grasses of Waihi Beach, Bowentown Bach by Edwards White is a dark timber-clad form that gives way to warm, embracing interiors. Oriented towards the gently undulating terrain that stretches as far as the eye can see, the home is both an open viewing platform from which to observe the landscape and also a retreat that offers privacy and protection.
Located in the small settlement of Bowentown, on the Bay of Plenty in New Zealand’s North Island, the project was conceived as a vantage point from which to take in the surrounding environment and also as a place of refuge – from both the elements and the nearby suburbs. The building’s observatory-like nature sees the upper level set amongst the treetops. Yet it also remains deeply grounded, with its dark façade of weathered timber evoking a piece of charred driftwood washed up on a nearby beach.
The entry is set obliquely into the dark street facing façade, which is almost devoid of other openings.
A complementary use of timber is key to how Bowentown Bach balances the emphasis on a sense of refuge with a sympathy towards its surrounding landscape. In contrast to the weathered timber of the exterior, the sharpness and warmth of the interior timber walls and flooring provide a sense of security from the elements. Wood, heavy and stiff in its disposition, has been made to feel soft and agile, warm and welcoming, and the honeyed tones of the interior evoke the palette of the dunes.
The entry is set obliquely into the dark street facing façade, which is almost devoid of other openings. Here, there is a sense that the exterior is like a solid piece of worn charred driftwood, which has been cut back to reveal its lighter interior. The home can also be accessed via an exterior staircase that leads guests up to the living space, where a terrain in constant flux can be observed from sun-swamped vantage points.
Openings frame views of the landscape beyond, while the strong encasing walls emphasise a sense of protection.
Nestled in nature, elements of the house are similarly nested themselves. Lofty ceilings reduce in height to create a cosseted sense of intimacy, and bookcases, kitchen shelves and window seats fit perfectly into corners. Openings frame views of the landscape beyond, while the strong encasing walls emphasise a sense of protection. Outside, small balconies off the ground floor offer the choice to observe the outdoors or be immersed in the sea breeze. The kitchen’s island bench strays from a traditional oblong feature, instead flowing with the lines of the open plan room to offer ample utility and a sense of openness.
Bowentown Bach is a project of understated luxury, built on the integrity and contrasting qualities of timber. Celebrating the environment in which the home is set, Edwards White Architects has balanced openness with privacy, opening the building towards the views of the dunes while creating a sense of solitude and retreat.