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Apple Bay house a quietly, sensitive performer

Winner of a local branch award in the 2010 Nelson/Marlborough NZIA awards, Parsonson Architect’s Apple Bay house was praised by the judges for the way it sits sensitively in the trees. But, for the owners who have a special interest in the theatre, this holiday home in a bush-clad bay of the Marlborough Sounds has a little secret that ensure when they stay here, they can create a lot of fun.

Behind the fireplace, says Gerald Parsonson, at the end of the living space, there’s a library cum sunny nook with sliding screens to the living area opening across a fireplace. Underneath, there’s a secret door to a room where you can dress up and pop up for performances. “It’s quite an amazing thing that most houses certainly don’t have,” says Parsonson.

The house unfolds from a delicate platform floating in the bush in two parts. Each has a fine roof line that follows the lie of the land, so it sits on the earth gently, explains Parsonson.

The upstairs living areas are one large space with decks at each end where the owners can enjoy both the morning and afternoon sun. Downstairs, bedrooms float among the trees with windows opening at a level to look out above the treetops to the view of the water. The pavilions are separated by a space, which forms a bush courtyard down below. When the owners come up from the sea, they can shower, then head into the bedrooms to dress before heading upstairs to the living spaces.

Parsonson says he chose dark stained, slatted boards for the exterior cladding so when you look up from below, the boarding blends with the shadows of the trees.

The house is very secluded. A little boathouse below the path leads up to the house, so the owners can access the house by boat or drive around from Waikawa Bay.