Builder: McConnell Building Ltd
Photography: Camilla Rutherford
An architectural anchor within an environment of extremes, this Wānaka residence is a confident expression of place and pragmatism. Hunkered into its hilltop site, its simple forms – solid with a gentle slope to the geometry - echo the landscape, and its design for thermal efficiency is engineered to deliver trans-seasonal comfort to the occupants.
Textural contrast is a key driver of the dwelling’s material make-up: insulated concrete panels act as a heat sink and the horizontality of their shuttered surface shares a visual language with the vertical timber cladding of its counterpart.
Entry is via a pebble-and-rock court sandwiched between two volumes and an atrium-style foyer – a journey that reinforces the feeling of generous scale. Within the beautifully proportioned rooms, there is an expansiveness that pays homage to the surrounds but also intimacy and warmth as rich timber flooring and walls of oiled cedar play off the robustness of the roughcast concrete.
Exposed steel beams set up a regular cadence within the main living zone where clerestory windows keep the elemental connection close but a wood-burner teams with underfloor heating and high-value insulation to temper the temperature. In the two-storey bedroom wing, considered glazing has one eye on energy efficiency and another on the long view towards Mount Gold.
Courtyards to the east, west and north turn the periscope on sheltered outdoor living and the kitchen becomes the central hub of this programme. Judges at the NZIA Southern Architecture Awards called the house “direct and honest” – a machine for practical living. But the owners, who are longstanding residents of the area, see this as a generational project: a home to hand on. The permanence, then, is not only in the timelessness and flexibility of the design, nor in the enduring materials and the eco-effective planning. It lies in the long-term future of family.