Country home has raw beauty

Corten steel, shuttered concrete and natural schist stone quarried on site help this house references the raw beauty of the Central Otago landscape

Country houses on lifestyle blocks pose their own design challenges. There may be strict local regulations that ensure a house doesn't detract from the magnificence of the scenery. And such sites can be exposed to strong winds.

Designer Guy Shallard had a solution to both these problems for this new house on 2.8ha near Queenstown. He specified raw materials that would echo the harsh nature of the wider landscape, and he designed the house to provide sheltered courtyards away from the wind.

The house has a highly symmetrical form, with a large central gabled volume and four matching square pavilions – two off each side. The space between these pavilion elements creates the sheltered outdoor living areas.

Schist stone was quarried on site to form walls for both the house and landscaping. This is teamed with Corten steel plate and shuttered concrete. Shallard says all the concrete was poured insitu, and used in its raw state, which gives the house a semi-industrial aesthetic.

The effect is reinforced by a series of tall, structural steel arches that frame the front gable, creating a dramatic entry. These have been left to weather and gather a rusty patina that matches the Corten steel on the pavilions.

Shallard says the owners came from a large, traditional country house, and although they wanted a modern home, they didn't want to sacrifice all sense of tradition.

"The design was always going to be a balance," he says. "We needed to provide every modern convenience and crisp materials and finishes, but it was also important to keep some traditional references. The gabled volume, for example, is reminiscent of a traditional form, but reinterpreted in a modern way."

To enhance the visual drama of the entry, the architect framed the space with concrete, and added a mirrored wall, with a steel-framed mirror, opposite the doors. A door to the left opens to a hallway leading to the formal lounge pavilion, and the family living area in the central volume.

A high raked ceiling in the family living area follows the line of the roof. It features white-painted panels and exposed beams. The high ceiling and windows on two sides ensure this central circulation space is light and airy.

Shallard says he took his cue for the kitchen from the house itself, introducing similar materials. Steel forms a decorative front to drawers on the long island. This was finished with iron paste – the treatment was rubbed on and then buffed off to get the required look. Steel also forms the shelving above the cooking centre.

"The entire island is framed by raw concrete, which retains the patterning of the formwork. Concrete also forms the splashback."

A deep benchtop of black granite is sandwiched between the concrete framework on the island, contrasting the rough with the smooth. In keeping with its sophisticated look, the granite forms a raised bar top that's ideal for serving food and drinks.

The rest of the island and perimeter benchtops feature 5mm stainless steel plate that creates a fine, crisp edge detail.

"The wall cabinetry is framed with structural steel, continuing the industrial look of the monochromatic colour palette," Shallard says. "The tall doors at either side of the unit are inset with stainless steel plate that's similar to the benchtops."

To provide further visual continuity, an extended fire surround at the opposite end of the room features similar raw concrete, blackened steel and black-stained American white oak panels.

Large-format floor tiles also help to tie the spaces together visually.

The monochromatic colour palette and materials extend to the bedrooms and bathrooms. Black-stained American oak lines the walls of the master bedroom, and bathrooms feature shuttered concrete and painted, rough-sawn cedar walls. There are also deep, blackened steel drawers in the solid black-stained American oak vanity cabinets.

A study features dark grey lacquered cabinetry with a separate wine cellar.

Credit list

Guy Shallard, Lat Forty Five (Queenstown)
Kitchen and bathroom manufacturer
Formatt Bespoke Joinery Co
Wall panelling
Oak veneer, stained and lacquered
Stainless steel 5mm plate
Blanco; Grohe
Bathroom walls
Insitu concrete; rough-sawn, white-painted cedar boards
American white oak; lacquer, raw steel
Floor tiles
Bathroom taps
Naylor Love
Alpine tray
Audiovisual equipment
Hardware and storage systems
Corten steel; insitu concrete; schist stone quarried on site
Shuttered concrete
Bathroom vanity
Solid black-stained American oak with blackened steel drawer fronts
Powder room walls
Wallpaper by Design Country

Story by: Colleen Hawkes

Photography by: Jamie Cobel

12 Jan, 2015