A Shot in the Dark


A holiday home for two snowboarding mates makes the most of mountain views and Southern living

When two blokes approached Yoke, a Queenstown architecture studio, to create a holiday home in the suburb of Jack’s Point, Thomas Ibbotson took the chance to go to the dark side.
“It was an opportunity to depart from light timbers and tones, which we’d been doing a lot of,” the architect explains. “This house could be more masculine and industrial, more dark and raw: charcoal, concrete and metal.”

The owners of the section, who have been best mates since childhood and live in Sydney and Auckland with their families, were happy for Ibbotson to take the lead, without working from a specific client brief. Their only request: two main bedrooms so they could all have a comfortable amount of space while staying there together.

“They had very little input on what they wanted, which is quite different for us as a studio,” says Ibbotson. “But that made it a really interesting project from the outset.”

There were, however, other constraints. Thirty percent of the site was a no-build zone, due to its steepness. The proposed design had to be approved by the design board — Jack’s Point is highly curated for aesthetic reasons, and living in the suburb means complying with the rules around materials and profiles — before going to resource consent. An approved landscape plan was mandatory too, and required that a bond be paid to the board, to be returned once the planting was completed.

Despite the restrictions, Ibbotson pushed forward with a strong monopitched roof form perched above two boxes. The garage is placed under the house, so the living areas and bedrooms are high enough to make the most of the incredible views of the Remarkables, Coronet Peak, and a glimpse of Lake Wakatipu.

“Originally the design guide set out for traditional gabled forms, which is a more expected look for the area, but our clients are young and creative and were happy to push the rules a little bit,” says Ibbotson.
“The monopitch was a point of difference among the surrounding buildings and reflected the jagged schist background in which the house sits. It also creates a really efficient roof form, and brings some modern design to this building, which sets the house apart from the others.”

Bagged schist was specified to clad the garage — a nod to the region’s natural materials and colour palette — and thermally modified timber by Truwood was used to clad the house.
The heat-treated cladding holds up to the hot summers, and provides durability in tough winters. Stained charcoal-black, it is wrapped vertically around the two boxes that contain the house, but oriented horizontally in places for textural interest. 
Inside, the dark aesthetic continues. The kitchen features charcoal cabinetry, inky finger tiles and grey Caesarstone benches. In the living room, which is sunny and gets the very best of the epic views, a poured and polished concrete floor — great for solar gain —and chunky hearth plinth add to the dark-themed detailing. So does the steel fireplace, which also serves the purpose of concealing the TV.
The two main bedrooms at the back of the section have views of The Remarkables, and a guest room and bunk room mean the house can accommodate a crowd. Ample storage means the owners can fly in and out, leaving their belongings for next time.

Like the rest of the interior, the bathrooms are simple and modern, with black finger tiles reappearing in the shower, alongside charcoal cabinets and concrete sinks.

“We were conscious of not overdoing the heaviness by adding touches of softness in the design,” Ibbotson says. “That comes through in floating shelves in the kitchen and bathrooms, made with timber veneer, and in the texture of the finger tiles.

“We try to pursue an edited look through the interiors in all projects,” Ibbotson adds. “It’s important to continually question each element, always developing throughout the process. It’s not about the first thing you land on, for sure, but instead developing constantly.”
In this house, thoughtful consideration has resulted in a dwelling that is functional and makes efficient use of space. The two boxes allow for sheltered and private spaces to the west and south of the house. One void has become a protected deck, with a schist wall and lovely outlook. There’s a front courtyard too, that looks to Coronet Peak, and a hot tub out the back.

Questioning every design decision helped Yoke keep the budget tight. The trussed roof, specification of engineered benches and melamine in the kitchen, and the decision to not invest in overhead cabinetry, kept costs down. The result proves that great architecture doesn’t require a mega budget.

For Ibbotson, it’s not the bottom line or the beautiful details that he loves most in this residential project. Instead, it’s the way the design works, both in the natural setting and for its residents. “I really like how it sits in the landscape,” he says. “It’s both grounded by the heavy garage but also floats above the landscape. I like the success in how it captures the views and the way it operates for two friends holidaying and spending time together.”



Architect: Yoke
Contractors: Velvin Construction
Landscaping: Creation Green
Photography: Vaughan Brookfield
For more information visit NZIA