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This building project was all about keeping it in the family, writes Kim Dungey.
Family was at the heart of this modern build in Wanaka.
The steep, triangular site was subdivided from an existing lot, allowing three generations to live on the land overlooking the lake.
The older generation are long-time residents who did away with the tennis court and pool on their large section and created a building site on one corner. The new house was built by their son and daughter-in-law, who run a local backpackers' hostel and have two young children. Another of their sons, Auckland-based James Norman, was the project and design architect for the home.
The Beacon Point Rd house was one of two by Assembly Architects to taste success at the recent Southern architecture awards. It also won a gold award for Dunlop Builders in the Southern region registered master builders' house of the year competition (new homes, $700,000 to $1 million).
Architect Louise Wright, who was the director in charge and led the interior design, says the elevated site gave them the opportunity to excavate, gain extra elevation in a district with height limits, and create an exciting form. But working out access to the house was tricky because it is on a corner on a reasonably busy road.
''We pretty much had to put the driveway as far away from the corner as possible and then work with the levels of the road in terms of how steep we could drive up to get to the garage. That really set the levels of the house.''
Designed as a cedar-clad ''tower'', the house ''jigs'' in and out to use every part of the site while staying within compliance angles. Garage, living rooms and bedrooms are stacked neatly on top of one another, with 220 sq m of floor space over three levels, on a 90sq m footprint.
The road frontage is three storeys high, punctuated only by a concealed garage door and a single large window screened in slatted steel that lights the double height kitchen space inside.
At the back, where it is more private, are the entrance, living areas and sheltered garden.
The owners asked for a comfortable, easy-care home that made the most of the lake and mountain views, says Wright, who established Assembly Architects with husband Justin Wright in 2005 and moved from Wellington to Arrowtown five years ago.
''They wanted to have a sunken lounge and they were interested in using structural insulated panels so the house would be comfortable in winter.''
They also favoured a Scandinavian look, with simple, light interiors and an exposed ceiling structure to provide texture and pattern.
The flooring is a mix of honed concrete, timber and carpet.
The site's unconventional shape led to some irregular angles inside but abundant light and expansive views avoid any chance of feeling hemmed-in.
Changing floor and ceiling heights create interest and upstairs, the bedrooms and bathrooms enjoy lake views through the tree canopy.
No space is wasted: there is no internal connection to the garage, for example, and thelanding at the top of the stairs doubles as a home office.
The result is a much-loved home and a multi-generational living arrangement Wright says could become more common in the future ''especially with the price of land in the region. It certainly makes sense if you can do it.''