House of the week: Wanaka retreat

Last updated 11:17 06/03/2013
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INDOOR-OUTDOOR FLOW: Architect Roger Buck says the build is “a fun place for enjoyable living, a place where space, form and portion has connection to the views in different ways.”

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This eco-friendly Wanaka house is a retreat and gathering point for a family who live much of their life elsewhere. It abundantly affords the peace and freedom they envisaged when considered building.

It's a home the couple and their two sons built with much thought, a place where he can find solace from the incessant work demands of Asia and she can catch her breath from the volunteering in the Himalayas.

They chose Christchurch architect Roger Buck, having heard about his talents from friends in the Himalayas. Their brief - an environmentally friendly home, to budget. Stage one was for a self-contained flat so she had a place  to stay on site when decision-making was required throughout construction.

The home is on an elevated five hectares near Wanaka. The 360-degree views stretch to surrounding mountains, but its amphitheatre setting protects from the wind. The build is within a subdivision of lifestyle blocks, where there is no there is no significant visual connection between the houses and where the land gently rolls away from the lake.

"Architecturally, we were limited only by the platform shape and a fairly low height limit," says Buck. "Given the soft slopes we decided on a gently curved rear wall to reflect this, with a simple mono-pitch roof butting into it - and went from there with a relatively conventional one-level plan: owners one end, visitors the other, and shared areas and access in-between."

TThere are three bedrooms and substantial open living in the main building, while the self-contained flat has a further guest bedroom.

 Local stone and timber ensure the build merges into the huge scree and tussock country, with mountains towering above.  Design reflects three objectives - solar gain and managing that energy for conservation; durability of build with minimum maintenance and low energy requirements; and a fun place, for enjoyable living.,

The family say they always long to get back to Wanaka and the house that amply provides areas for individual time and solace yet also plenty of space to gather and chat.

The architect says he planned a structure that works well inside rather than be concerned about outside impressions.

"You live in a house, you don't look from the outside, so it's better to minimise expectations from the outside, give no indication of what's inside and let the interest increase."

"Every night the owners walk down the curved corridor lined with their books and magazines, they are walking down a space that is becoming more personal, more intimate."


Build cost: $1.35 million

Size: Main house, 215 sq m; garage, 55 sq m; flat 55 sq m. 

Materials: Concrete block, schist, cedar, polystyrene cladding insulation, oak timberframes and macrocarpa beams and ceilings.

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Energy efficiency: High levels of thermal mass, high levels of insulation, north-facing, double glazing. Timber frames in main house helps with insulation as well as acoustics.

Architect: Roger Buck (& John Barret), Buck Architects and Associates, Christchurch.

Builder: Craig McConnell of Craig McConnell Building Ltd, Wanaka.

Done right: The materials are perfect for the environment, as are the design, layout and aspect. We also love the tall cedar rainscreen on the rear curved wall and the long horizontal and vertical windows.

Done wrong: We could have made the master bathroom and walk-in wardrobe bigger. We would have had timber windows in the flat if we hadn't been in a hurry to get that finished, but everything else is perfect!

Unexpected: I get a warm feeling of sanctuary every time I walk in and others say the same. It's an amazingly warm/cool and light house on every level. So grateful to call this home!

Recommend: Buck Architects and Associates, McConnell Building Ltd and Wanaka is stunning.

Next Time: Not planning to build again in this lifetime and certainly wish to spend our retirement here.

- © Fairfax NZ News


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