We were approached to design a single storey eco house on a rural site set amongst old gum trees near a quaint meandering stream that runs through the 2-hectare property and rising hills to the East and South, with a spectacular view up Clutha river valley to the Wanaka Lake and mountains.
The client design brief sought a contemporary retirement home that was sited to maximise views, solar gain with outdoor areas nestled into the landscape including the gums with shelter to enhance the full potential of the property.
The client wished us to explore a strong visual connection between indoor and outdoor spaces as they are keen gardeners, so it was crucial to visually link the home interior and exterior living spaces to the garden and natural landscape. The brief encouraged low pitched roofs, extensive glazing, and linked pavilions to provide a sheltered courtyard amongst their design preferences.
The home forms were to be a contemporary interpretive version of rural sheds where a roof and ceiling hovered above the landscape for living areas like a tree canopy overhead, rather than reference the rural vernacular of traditional gabled ended typology.
Materials and finishes were to be low maintenance and of natural colours to blend into the surrounding landscape, endemic to the heritage of Central Otago which could include schist stone, cedar and corrugated steel.
Construction was to offer high performance thermal envelopes with passive solar design, energy efficient heating and cooling integral with economic and environmental sustainability the core design principle.
Creative Solution & Design Features
The house is three low profile pavilions of different materials to inform a creative environmentally sensitive design that blends naturally into its rural environment. The plan layout is pavilions for storing, living and sleeping arranged to connect with sheltered outdoor living courtyards. Fully glazed living pavilion walls North and South were designed to allow an axial transparency between indoors and outdoors through open plan living to maximise solar gain and control with verandas.
The outdoor living area north was designed for flowing access to an expansive deck, garden, and lawn. Alternative outdoor living south provides a sheltered, private entertaining area. Master bedroom, dressing room, ensuite, guest bedroom, bathroom, toilet, and laundry are located east for morning sun, privacy and access to the Spa Courtyard sheltered by the hillside garden. The materiality of the exterior is durable low maintenance materials, finishes and colours carried to the interiors.
Colorsteel corrugated, schist stone, exposed concrete and oiled cedar are linked to interiors by plywood ceilings and soffits plus Strand board feature walls with extensive floor to ceiling glazing to create light spacious zones that seamlessly connect the built and natural environment. An insulated Maxraft concrete heated concrete floor provides interior thermal mass. Photovoltaic panels provide sustainable electrical energy.
Passive solar design, natural cross flow ventilation, roof overhangs, high performance thermal envelope insulation, double glazing, LED lighting, star rated appliances, eco non-toxic paint finishes and modules of standard sheet sizing to minimise waste are sustainability features that the client and designers promote for an ecological future.