The Bach that John Kirwan Built

For Sir John Kirwan, the beachside town of Waihi is akin to a spiritual home. The sporting great and keen surfer spent countless holidays and weekends in the town since his parents bought their Waihi bach when he was just 8 years old. 

Kirwan and his wife Fiorella originally built a holiday home there in 1991 but it didn’t age well and, by 2019, it needed replacing. It was this that drove their desire to build with materials that could withstand the coastal elements and house the family for generations to come. The previous house had been fairly large but when thinking about the replacement, the couple decided to aim for practicality and longevity. 

Kirwan has a long-standing relationship with architectural designer Chris Tate, who he engaged to design the new bach. It was decided, during a meeting with Tate, that the Waihi bach would be clad in COLORSTEEL® FlaxPod® Matte. For Tate, the use of COLORSTEEL® helped to ensure this was a durable, low maintenance and quintessentially New Zealand home that met his clients brief. “It’s cladding that represents New Zealand - very much a New Zealand look. “It’s bulletproof and it looks sharp”, says Tate. 

The new COLORSTEEL® Matte finish comprises of a micro-wrinkle paint technology that evenly diffuses light. The innovative paint finish allows the building to merge with its natural surroundings, giving it a low profile when seen from the beach, a key priority for the homeowners. The home was constructed using NZ Steel Axxis® Steel framing, which contributes to the bach’s longevity and allowed for easy construction.

The Metrib 760 profile of the COLORSTEEL® lends crisp, clean lines and a timeless yet modern look to the bach. To provide some visual warmth and a sense of contrast against the horizontal lines of the COLORSTEEL® cladding, Tate specified Abodo Vulcan Rhombus Clip Screening around the baseboards and decking balustrades. Chunky fascias lend a contemporary look to the design. A boardwalk runs alongside the house, accessing the rear deck and providing a reference to the beach access points over the dunes.

Inside, the house features a full wet room where Kirwan can come in from the surf and easily hang up his board, shower off and throw his wet clothing into the laundry, before heading up the hall to the living area. 

“The laundry is there, surfboards can be stored, it’s quite a functional entry with a big utility space to walk through,” says Tate. “And then it's like a villa with a hallway down the middle and rooms spilling off, then living, kitchen and dining at the end.”

The living space extends outdoors to a large deck with stadium style steps down to the lawn. A built-in barbecue and spacious outdoor dining area provide for easy summer living.

Designer statement: Chris Tate designs buildings of outstanding and unique modernity.

Each of his designs is as individual and daring as his imagination will go, statements that create a lasting impression on the world. He aims to create an experience in his buildings, maximising beauty by discovering the potential in a site. Taking an unconventional approach to architecture where function follows form, he aims to allow for adaptation for the building’s occupants. 

Project Details 
Completion date: 2020
Chris Tate
Main Contractor: 
Barrett Homes
Roofing/cladding Manufacturer: 
Metalcraft Roofing
Material: COLORSTEEL® FlaxPod® Matte
Profile: Metalcraft Metrib 760