When is a bach not a bach, but a holiday home?

This is a question we've often pondered here at the magazine. Whenever we think we know the answer - that a genuine bach is indisputably modest - we run into the fact that the common usage of the term has expanded, and that it is now used to describe getaway homes that have all the bells and whistles we'd expect to find in a city pad. (A reader wrote in to complain that our use of the word 'bach' on our December cover was an abuse of the term, as the homes in the magazine were not truly baches. We reply that in some cases, this reader probably has a point - hence this post).

This territory - the boundary between bach and holiday home - is something architects Lance and Nicola Herbst have been exploring for many years now, most recently in the bach that features on the cover of our current issue (and in the images accompanying this post, shot by Jackie Meiring). The fact that the bach is on Great Barrier Island helps, as all houses there are off the grid and subject to strict site coverage limits.

Nevertheless, Lance and Nicky's design is determindely a bach in the modest sense of the word: two bedrooms, an outdoor room, and a simple combined kitchen and living space. No frills, but beautifully and thoughtfully detailed.
What follows is our short Q+A with Lance and Nicola from our current issue, along with some outtakes from Jackie's shoot to give you more of a look around the bach. Please write in with your comments about the difference between baches and holiday homes, and if you think someone should take a stand to defend the 'proper' use of the term.

HOME New Zealand: What makes a great bach, as opposed to a beach home?

Lance Herbst: It’s not about deprivation, but about consciousness, that business of being aware of how much water and electricity you’re using, and filling your day with rituals – you have to cut the firewood and go out and get the fish for dinner. This building has been designed to achieve rustic ideals, but there’s an enormous amount of detail in it to get to this level. That’s because we believe in style and elegance as well. You don’t have to compromise your sense of aesthetics.

The main living space of this bach is really a covered deck, yet you also have a much more snug sitting area, too.

Lance: In baches, we try and make one warm, well-edged space for when the weather gets lashy.

Nicola: We wanted this to have an intimacy, so we decided that we would have a fairly low ceiling with exposed beams – that’s given it a richess and makes this space operate in a calming and more inward-looking way.

Your bach designs are well-known. Do you like doing bigger houses too?

Lance: I have no problem designing slick houses. It would be a lot of fun doing something really slick and sexy. It’s about context. There’s nothing wrong with that from an architectural perspective.