Queenstown Hill House
Falling in love with a holiday destination often leads to repeat visits. But sometimes it can lead to an even bigger commitment.
For the owners of this new house high above Lake Wakitipu in Queenstown, a love of the great outdoors – Central Otago in particular – sparked their own property investment.
The couple, from Australia, had already bought a holiday villa in the Commonage Close development by Trinity Development Alliance. They subsequently commissioned the same company and the same architect for their new home – Francis Whitaker of Mason & Wales Architects.
“The owners really appreciated the natural beauty of Queenstown, the lake, the mountains and the outdoor lifestyle on offer,” Whitaker says. “They also loved the alpine architecture of the Commonage villas, which is highly appropriate to this location. They could see that the new building site provided an opportunity to create something even more dramatic and exciting in a very powerful setting.”
Whitaker says the architecture is defined by its tall gabled volumes, simple, sloping roofs that shed the snow, and large overhanging eaves. “The glazed gable facades open up the house to the expansive views. The forms step forward, which means the gables can have return windows that bring the views, light and sun into the house through 180°."
In keeping with the alpine aesthetic, natural materials include local schist stone and cedar. “The cedar window facings at the front of the house extend through the two storeys, creating a strong, elegant, vertical proportion to the structure’s design,” the architect says.
Schist clads the base of the building and the large garage that forms a plinth for the house.
Entry to the house is through the garage, which acts as a porte cochère – it leads to a lift and a large spiral staircase. Access is also provided by an outdoor stair, and stairs that descend from the street above, to the main living level of the house.
“The sculptural spiral staircase linking all three levels of the house is part of the excitement of the building,” says the architect. “With a fully glazed wall, the views are maximised. We also introduced a textural wall that defines this area and helps to capture the natural light washing across the surface.”
The main living floor accommodates a large, open-plan living room with a kitchen and dining area. This is open to a breakfast area, an outdoor entertaining terrace and a games room with a bar and climate-controlled wine cellar.
The kitchen is in the heart of the home to allow a close communication with people in both the living and dining areas. The owners can also enjoy the same amazing views while preparing food at the island.
The library-study-music room is the pièce de résistance of the house. Here, the full drama of the view is exposed through the double height glazed gable end. This room features a raked ceiling with Fijian kauri battens, and a spiral staircase to a mezzanine level. A traditional rug is teamed with a slate floor, edged with Fijian kauri.
Whitaker says the alpine architecture is also enduring, and its prominent location means it makes a significant contribution to the character of Queenstown.
“This property is not just a home, it’s a visual amenity for the township for years to come.”
- Trends Magazine, Colleen Hawkins
2009 - 2013
Trends Magazine – New Homes, Vol. 28, No. 01