Southern comfort

Set against a spectacular alpine backdrop,this spacious house reflects itsnatural surroundings
Photography by: Suellen Boag Wahine III by
View of the main living area ceiling, floor, home, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, room, wall, window, gray
View of the main living area

The climate, the landscape and the vernacular of the surrounding neighbourhood can greatly influence the design of a house.

This was certainly the case with this home one of five luxury residences in the Speargrass community in the alpine area of Queenstown.

The property's owner, Tim Hemingway, commissioned local architect John Blair of Blair & Co to design each of the houses. Planner Paddy Baxter was also involved initially.

The contours of the original site were rather impractical and would have compromised the design of the houses, says Baxter.

"We wanted to create a rural ambience with a distinct character that reflected the local setting, yet provided space, privacy and amenities," he says. "To do this, we had to first re-sculpture the terrain to restore the contours that had existed before the land was quarried."

A formal driveway leading into the development is lined with pin oaks and cherry trees that show off seasonal colour changes. A canal with feature weirs runs adjacent to the driveway.

The design of each house in this community is a direct response to its respective site, says Blair.

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View of the living area

"The initial design concept was based on creating a series of building forms that could be combined in different ways to create five distinct residences," he says. "The outlook and micro-climate of each site had to be taken into account. There was also the need to ensure a degree of separation and privacy from one site to the next."

Using a local architect who understood the region was very important to the owner.

"Understanding the climate and the sun's movement, along with choosing materials and colours to suit the changing landscape, were integral to the design," says Hemingway.

Named after the nearby Remarkables mountain range, this house sits on just over a hectare of land, which is planted with native trees, tussocks and pasture grass to blend with the rural landscape. Onsite bore water provides irrigation.

The home's dark-grey corrugated steel roof and cladding of schist stone and dark-stained cedar reflect the architectural style and material palette of the region. French-style steel pergolas outside the master bedroom and living area enhance outdoor spaces created for relaxing and entertaining.

Blair says the home's subdued, natural colour palette was chosen to merge with hues in the surrounding landscape.

Double glazing and aluminium joinery provide maximum insulation with minimal maintenance.

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View of the bathroom

The flow of the interior spaces in the 330m² house was carefully planned, with multiple living zones that are designed to work well whether the residents are a couple or a family.

The hub of the home is the open-plan kitchen and the spacious informal living room, from which bifold doors lead onto a large north-facing terrace.

Neutral walls throughout the house help create a sense of volume and light, while accents of colour anchor the spaces, adding a more intimate feel.

A separate formal lounge and dining room on the other side of the kitchen features a large schist fireplace and a selection of comfortable furniture.

The master suite and a separate wing containing the guests bedrooms, a bathroom, laundry and study, open off the central living hub.

"Each wing is designed as an independent space that can be closed off to ensure warmth and privacy if required," says Blair. "The brief was to design a house that could easily be added to if additional bedrooms were needed."

Underfloor heating can be activated remotely, while a multi-room sound system delivers music throughout the home, even in the bathroom.

Oct 22, 2004

Credit list

Project manager
Planning and landscape design
Baxter Brown
Kitchen designer
Blair & Co
Southland beech
Designa Ceramics
Window/door joinery
Aikten Joinery
Entertainment system
Floral arrangements
Renaissance Florist
Trevor Ward Builders (Master Builders Association)
Price and Humphreys
Kitchen manufacturer
Gibbston Stone Schist
Milford Galleries, Queenstown
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