Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Revisiting the Bach: A model for New Zealand's coastal holiday communities

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posted on 2021-08-29, 21:40 authored by Cunningham, Luke

The original holiday architecture of New Zealand’s coastline has faded from the nation’s memory. The bach was once an icon of national culture; it represented a simple, easy-going lifestyle that many aspired to adopt during holidays and on weekends. As some may remember, the bach was a small building that facilitated the very basics of life in a coastal context. It was small, in-expensive, and built with a strong sense of its surroundings.

Regulation around building code compliance and resource management have slowly seen the coastal landscape change. Second homes are now required to be built professionally, usually on privately developed land. Subdivisions filled with luxurious beach houses now overwhelm the natural environment, as land-owners compete for their slice of sea-side paradise.

This research aims to challenge the status quo by looking to the modest baches of the past for architectural solutions. Research into the bach typology uncovered what made them so treasured as holiday facilitators; whilst a model of shared land ownership addressed issues surrounding the planning of coastal buildings. A master planned community located in the Coromandel Peninsula at Waikawau Bay was developed to join these two facets together. As one of the last undeveloped beaches on the Peninsula, Waikawau presented a unique context for this research.

Data-collection on historic bach buildings was completed through the method of Thematic Analysis. Following this; research through design reintroduced the architectural qualities of the bach to a contemporary context. The results showed that through shared-ownership models, the Coromandel Coast could continue to be developed and even densified through new planning methods and revised architectural design. These results suggest that future development of our coastlines can still occur, but new ideas about the planning and ownership of holiday towns are required; ideas that should be fore fronted by community and place, to sustain and enhance the coastal landscape.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

Victoria University of Wellington Unit

Centre of Building Performance Research

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code


Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Wood, Peter