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An alpine retreat balances the needs of the owners with solutions for harsh winter weather, Kim Dungey reports.
An award-winning home high between Queenstown and Wanaka has been designed to cope with a harsh environment.
Being three-quarters of the way up the Crown Range put the house into the alpine zone, which required a specific design solution for snow loads and snow melt.
Metal snow boards and heated cable were run in gutters and downpipes.
Structural loads for the roof were designed to exceed building code requirements. And box-section steel was used within the aluminium window joinery to cope with high winds.
Built by A.J. Saville Builder Ltd, the property is a national finalist in the Registered Master Builders 2011 House of the Year, in the section for new homes over $2 million.
It has already won the supreme award in the southern region, as well as awards for kitchen and bathroom excellence and interior style and finish.
Boasting a large living area with stunning views and making extensive use of cedar and schist, the property was described by the judges as architecturally exciting.
"There were some real difficulties with some of the detailing on the property but it has been well designed to cope with its environment. The builders have done a marvellous job."
The five-bedroom, four-bathroom home was designed by Walker Architects Limited for a Singaporean couple and their two young children.
They wanted a contemporary house to contrast with their "Arts and Crafts" style home in Singapore, where one of them works in the financial market.
The couple like to travel with friends so the holiday home had to sleep 10 people comfortably, with space for individuals to be on their own when they preferred.
While the 4.9ha site on the west face of the Crown Terrace presented some challenges - builders had to work around a historic water race along the eastern boundary and working days were lost because of snow closing the Crown Terrace road - it also offered distinct advantages. These included all-day sun and uninterrupted views over the Wakatipu Basin.
The architects say the intention was to present the home as a "joinery item" rather than the perceived rustic vernacular of Central Otago. Vertical cedar cladding exaggerates the height of the house and heavy elements of plaster and schist anchor it to the site.
Radius corners allow the cedar to flow seamlessly around the house, while the custom-run profile board and batten provides texture and shadow.
Inside, the open-plan living is designed for entertaining.
Entry is via the upper level, which contains the lounge, dining room, kitchen, master bedroom, guest bedroom and garaging. The lower level has three bedrooms and a living/TV room.
Flooring in the main living spaces is a combination of granite tiles and stained American oak engineered timber flooring. Thick wool carpets are used in half the bedrooms and timber in the rest.
Walls are mainly painted plaster board, with the external schist and weatherboard cladding repeated on key features inside.
Acoustic timber ceiling panels in the living room, master bedroom and TV room help to compensate for the hard flooring.
It is also very much a smart home, with the owners able to control functions such as lighting and heating from anywhere in the world, using an iPad.
All the rooms have easy access to the outdoors and take advantage of the views. The home's H-plan provides four main sheltered outdoor spaces, including the southern patio designed for evenings around the open fire and spa pool.
Builder Allister Saville won the national Registered Master Builders House of the Year Award in 2006 and the showhome category last year.
His Arrowtown-based company has a staff of 13 tradesmen and two apprentices and is building five houses at Millbrook resort near Queenstown.
• Floor area: 650 sq m over two levels, with additional mezzanine storage in the garage.
• Bedrooms: Five.
• Bathrooms: Four and guest powder room.
• A home automation system allows the owners to control audio-visual devices, lighting, heating and security from offshore. They can regulate the living room blinds and window actuators for solar and heat gains.
• Monitored smoke detection and sprinklers.
• Walls achieve an R value of R4.0, the floor R3.6 and roof, R5.2. Air conditioning via a 35kW heat exchanger.
• The thermally broken concrete floor has in-slab heating provided by two diesel boilers.
• The heating system is designed to incorporate solar panels and/or geothermal heat pumps if the house ever becomes a full-time residence.
• A 6kVA generator provides back-up in case of power failure and feeds the fire sprinkler system and grey water irrigation.
• Architect: Walker Architects Ltd.
• Builder: A.J. Saville Builder Ltd.
• Landscape architects: Baxter Design Group.