NZIA Nelson Marlborough Architecture Award - Small Project Architecture
New Zealand was the last landmass to be inhabited, and then deforested with unrivalled speed. Its new cleared landscapes are still so young they shift, when they fail new native trees grow. It might take a hundred years or more, but buildings that participate in this shift could one day inhabit near-original forest. This is something new, for New Zealand architecture was established and has remained in clearings. To inhabit its original forest landscape, architecture must understand existing context rather than generate new landscapes, it must be soft, patient and ready to change; as we exhibited at the 2015 Prague International Architecture Festival entitled Soft-Context:Soft-Architecture.
Bach-with-Two-Roofs found itself in a shifting landscape. We designed four buildings between 2007 and 2112 to provide holiday accommodation in an exotic forest. Sheltering low beneath imported eucalypts, the buildings have sacrificial roofing and recessive interiors, and share the space between trees. Holidays were private and hidden.
In 2014 a cyclone cleared the forest. The two roofs limit damage, but the buildings require more than repair, they need re-finishing. Without the trees the site is exposed, the wind stronger, the sun hotter, even the building’s colour and proportions feel misplaced. Holidays here aren’t supposed to be about hiding and finding shade.
The post-cyclone additions re-finish the buildings to the new clearing, but do so by understanding a landscape that continues to shift, and a native forest that in time will again conceal and shelter. A shade building is added, filtering light and sitting low for the main buildings to recede behind. Frames tack lightly to existing structures, widening cover and shadow to provide privacy and retreat. But these new elements are adaptable and expect to be repositioned and changed as the forest grows. Holidays resume, but being finished is finished, this landscape is shifting…