As far as Wānaka subdivisions go, it doesn’t get much better than this. The gently sloping site, backed by mountains with a panoramic view of the lake, delivers everything you could ask of the alpine town. “It’s one of the premier views of Lake Wānaka,” says Chris Wilson, of Wilson & Hill Architects. “But in a mountain environment that comes with a catch — the wind is strong, and the sun is hot.”
The dichotomy of a holiday home sheltered from the elements but open to the scenery was crucial in Wilson’s design, as was the geography. You approach the house from a road above, so your first impression is looking down onto the building. “Because of that, we wanted the roof to be quite sculptural,” says Wilson. The ridgelines on the two roofs run diagonally from corner to corner. It’s a complex design but remarkably effective. The black metal then wraps over the building’s sides to form a continuous cladding, leaving a Canterbury prickle in its wake. Portions of cedar soften the facade.
Though it’s currently a holiday home, the owners wanted to leave the door open for a permanent shift. That meant including a proper entry and additional guest bathrooms. That’s alongside three bedrooms, a main bedroom suite and an open-plan kitchen, living and dining area. It’s in this central space that you come face to face with that all-important vista.
An entirely glazed wall soaks in the lake view. Altherm’s Metro Series ThermalHEART windows — which are thermally broken for high performance in cold climates — follow a sloping roofline from the high-studded living area down towards the kitchen. Underneath, a series of Altherm sliding doors open to the deck. “The idea is they can push the doors right back when it’s still, but even on a breezy day, you can open them slightly and allow some air through,” says Wilson. When it’s hot, high windows open for cross ventilation.
Even in this generous space, Wilson has achieved a sense of intimacy by tucking a secondary snug behind a concrete partition. A double-sided gas fire is set into the room divider, and the panels have been honed to reveal the local aggregate. “I’m a big concrete fan,” says Wilson. “And I really like the colours and textures revealed in this one.”
When the breeze picks up in the afternoons, the family will often retreat to the central courtyard. Set directly off the living space through Altherm sliding doors, it’s here, not on the front deck, that you find the barbecue and outdoor fire. Sheltered from the wind and rain, they can enjoy the alfresco entertaining area year-round.
Originally published in HERE Magazine.