Completed: 2019, Hāwea Flat
Builder: Davidson Building Ltd
Photography: Simon Devitt
This house, set on the tawny plains of Hāwea Flat, evolved alongside its occupants over 10 years – a decade to deliver just what is needed. Wrapped within mountains, it leans into its environment both literally and figuratively.
What began as a crib, grew in a carefully managed process, into a four-bedroom home, built to a slow-burn budget with honest, rudimentary materials. Black corrugated steel used as cladding lends robust emphasis to the distinctive geometric volumes and alludes to the rural sheds of the Central Otago district. Inside, plywood linings provide a swirl of organic pattern against the concrete-slab floor of the original holiday home.
Although delivered in stages, the confident form is cohesive and defined by two rakish rooflines which slope down towards the distant lake. Trimmed in red, their angular edges are as racy as the prevailing nor-wester while overhangs, lined in Lawson cypress, reflect the honey-toned grasses that soften the immediate landscape.
An expansive envelope, where the steep ceiling rises to accommodate a mezzanine bedroom tucked under the roof, ensures an architectural balance of spaciousness and energy efficiency. The building is fully sealed with a rigid air barrier and double-code insulation, and clipped window sizes respond to the elemental extremes, calming the sear of the sun or keeping the not-too open-plan rooms cosy in an austere winter. A narrow, vertical band of glazing that begins at ground level and wraps up as a skylight above the kitchen brings in daylight and high-sky views.
Level-headed planning is weighted equally with liveability. The dwelling’s spatial qualities have a sense of lightness. Simple, affordable materials and moments of levity (such as circular cut-outs on the pantry door), give it a casual, hand-crafted quality. Together they evoke the feeling of being ‘away in the everyday’.