The brief was basic, to say the least. All the Australian family really wanted was for their Wanaka getaway house to be warm and easy to look after so they could spend more time skiing.
"It's probably the briefest brief I've ever been given," architect Ken Warburton says. "There needed to be bedrooms for the family - the parents and two kids and a guest room, and that was the extent of it."
A substantial home has grown from that brief, maximising insulation and passive heating while minimising maintenance.
Warburton says the design is effectively a cross, the living, dining, kitchen and family areas are in a line east to west with a single pitch roof, the guest bedroom is at the same level om the northerly aspect. The kids bedrooms are on the lowest level with accompanying bathroom, the master bedroom and en suite on the upper level with huge views.
The whole house gets stunning views of the mountains to the west, Treble Cone, Black Peak, Fog Peak and Mount Aspiring - just what the Sydney-based family envisaged.
"It can be a very windy site so we've created a sheltered courtyard on the south side of the living room, out of the wind and enjoying the last of the sun before it sets," Warburton adds.
There are plenty of local materials on show, with schist inside and out framing a pair of fireplaces and creating walls that windproof the courtyard. Southland beech stairs connect the levels, even the banister rail has been crafted from beech.
Simplicity, clean lines and native plantings allow the build to blend into the environment leaving the huge mountains views and dramatic geography to capture the eye.
"There's one colour, merino, throughout the interior except the family room which is a chocolate colour, " Warburton says.
Heating is provided by gas-fired radiators and a jetmaster fire and the kitchen is very simple, with one big island, high cupboards and a walk-in pantry.
Warburton and his team did the whole project from design to fit out and the property took a year to complete.
BUILD COST: Under $1 million.
ARCHITECT: Ken Warburton, Parker Warburton Team Architects Ltd.
BUILD SIZE: 340 square metres plus decks.
MATERIALS: Stone schist, cedar, long run solar rib steel.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY: Concrete masonry for thermal mass, insulation on the outside of the concrete block ensuring heat retention, double glazing with low E glass, argon filled, 60mm thick polystyrene everywhere, solid fuel fire.
DONE RIGHT: The use of natural materials - schist ands cedar, it connects the house to the outside through the large windows and the owners say the quality of the build is sensational.
DONE WRONG: One thing was lost in translation through emails - the original plan had a single kitchen sink but the clients wanted a double. By the time that became known it was too late, the kitchen benchtop was in.
UNEXPECTED: The surprise at how efficient and quick the build was, with concerms about weather but it proved easy, fast and without hitch. Using emails the clients didn't feel they needed to always be on site.
RECOMMEND: "Using an architect, people should taken the plunge, build something that reflects their personality. Its quite possible to give an architect a budget and build something within that budget. Houses are there for a long time so people should take time and build something unique and worthy of the beauty of New Zealand."
NEXT TIME: "Follow our proven formula, build facing north with a separate lounge for the kids, a separate guest area that is at least one hall away, and use more schist, but that depends on the price of schist at the time."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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