Environments don't come more rugged and beautiful than the surrounds of Lake Wanaka in the Southern Alps. This home design echoes that ruggedness while offering cosy interiors to beat the mountain weather

The home was designed for a married couple along with their three teenage children. Finding an amazing elevated site with sensational views located near the shoreline of Lake Wanaka was the basis for creating their dream. 

The design language was informed by the homeowner’s willingness to produce something special as well as inherent planning restrictions and the natural inspirations of the site itself.

Centrally located, the home sits on a large established site that is spotted with pockets of protected Kanuka trees that continue through to the large public reserve to the east. Single storey wings along with a main double storey ‘anchor block’ form the overall outline of the home.

The central anchor block supports the main living areas on the first floor to obtain uninterrupted views of Lake Wanaka along with all year sun exposure. The single storey wings intentionally separate out other areas such as the master and guest bedrooms and the garage wing. 

This separation also allowed the formation of sheltered exterior areas that intertwine with the pockets of Kanuka trees.

The single storey wings follow the local vernacular of pitched roofs dressed in mono claddings of euro tray and larch. The larch was finished by using the shou-sugi-ban technique – essentially charred and brushed.

The two storey anchor block was derived by being visually centred and well planted to the site utilising strong concrete forms. 

While the overhanging upper form is simple, the geometric and angled larch rain screen took inspiration from the site's Kanuka trees, these have been whipped into fantastical shapes and angles by the prevailing winds. 

Windows are either expressed with frames mirroring the concrete below or hidden behind the rain screen. The upper wall facing to the south was used as a canvas for the larch rain screen in its full ‘origami’ expression.

A sense of arrival was crucial; starting with the larch wrapped guest wing. This leads to the timber boardwalk floating above a pond and garden while passing through the concrete arches. 

The purposes of the entrance and internal gallery are three-fold; as dramatic theatre, functional circulation spaces, and areas to exhibit art installations internally and externally for local artists.

A very important point was making the home sustainable. This informed the use of SIPs panels (Structural Insulated Panel) for the construction. 

This in combination with heat recovery systems and underfloor heating to all floors led to a home that is well suited for the southern environment. 

The home, with its warm cedar lined living spaces, offers a snug and comfortable place to live no matter the time of the year.

Credit list

AO Architecture
Siberian Larch rain screens; Dimond Veedek and Dimond Eterpanto under rain sreen; concrete tilt panel.
Vantage Metro Series, double glazed, Low-E glass.
GIB; Siberian larch; Cedar panelling.
Gas fire, Zednher 550 heat recovery ventilation; underfloor heating
Holmesmade Craftsmanship
Dimond Veedek and Calder Stewart Heritage Tray
Main flooring
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Highly Commended

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Simon Larkin

12 Jan, 2020

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