Otaki's house of glass

Last updated 05:00 23/08/2012
Otaki House
Jill Wild
PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES: Dave Launder's Otaki house is a sleek glass and steel construction.

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How appropriate that architect, tramper and climber Dave Launder would choose a spot at the base of the Tararua mountains to build his home, in the Otaki Gorge north of Wellington.

It's within arms reach of the very mountains and tracks he's hiked over the years, with a vista out to sea over the huge expanse of the Otaki river escarpment.

The self-effacing Launder calls the home effective, in harmony with its raw and magnificent surrounds both in the maximising of views and energy efficiency. Colleagues regarded the build in more grand terms and awarded Launder the supreme award for architecture in the 2007 New Zealand Institute of Architecture Awards.

Launder says the design was strongly influenced by Australian architect Glen Murcutt's philosophy that a structure should grow from the ground up, fitting into the topography.

"The final design reflects the surrounding steep gullies, trees and branches, the landforms that are so dramatic, the deep ravines that drop down to streams."

Launder describes his build as effectively a kitset construction. Concrete planks and tanalised timber form the base with concrete pumped on top to form the floor. The steel base supports span a small gully that has continuous water flow varying from a summer trickle to a winter torrent.

He and partner Isobel Gabites constructed the home themselves with help from a labourer. They began work in October using two truck loads of concrete, three truck loads of steel framing and a few truck loads of precast concrete slabs, bolting the structure together ready for the 40 metres of steel framed windows that front the entire north face of the build. By February it was finished, taking just six months.

Launder calculated the sun through the year, ensuring low winter sun shines nearly to the back wall of the house, while the high summer sun is shaded by exterior cedar wood slatting he calls 'the eyebrow'.

The house is a series of four metre segments divided by pre-cast concrete walls, ten segments in total - a master bedroom, ensuite and dressing room, summer room, TV room, dining room, kitchen, breezeway, laundry, guest bedroom and office.

He designed an electric heat system in the ceiling, with back up gas; solar power lights the build in conjunction with electricity. The wood fire was another Launder design, constructed by a friend from corten off cuts left from the build. Corten steel clads the back wall and a feature fence at the entrance.

Launder used basic agricultural barn door rollers to mobilise a huge kwila partition dividing the sun room from the TV room. Outside he's used the same rollers on a partition over the breezeway.

"If I had bought a door kit it would have cost thousands and these rollers are less than $20 each," he says.

Launder's stamp is everywhere - the front door of steel framed glass, solar powered LED lights, even the lounge suite and outdoor sculptures. The home very much reflects the professional who is passionate about design.

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SIZE: 195m2 plus double garage 48m2

MATERIALS: Corten steel cladding, steel windows and panasap glass, cedar louvres, concrete panels and floor, steel structure, zincalume roof.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: passive solar, PV panels, woodburner heating, water collection and disposal on site, led lighting.

DONE RIGHT: Design, most materials.

DONE WRONG: Polyurethaning a rubber floor,  using laminated glass , more cloud than expected for PV panels.

UNEXPECTED HASSLE: Snow during the build.

RECOMMEND: Most things are ok.

NEXT TIME: More money!

- Stuff


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