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Bob’s Cove house designed to maximise views

Tom O'Leary Nov 11
Bob’s Cove house designed to maximise views
Bob’s Cove is 10 minutes from central Queenstown.

Buildings designed by Wellington-based Poneke Architects are making their mark around New Zealand from Northland to Central Otago.Poneke Architects is owned by Nic Ballara whose own house, dubbed the 45 degree house because of its precipitous site, screened on Grand Designs NZ in 2015.

With 15 years experience in another practice in which he was a director, and undoubtedly publicity created by Grand Designs, Poneke Architects received more than 20 commissions in the first year it was established, not only in Wellington, but also in Queenstown and Auckland.

While urban “infill” projects which had pre-existing buildings on small and sometimes difficult sites have become a specialty, one of Poneke Architects more recent commissions was to design a rural Queenstown house at Bob’s Cove, 10 minutes from central Queenstown.

“The brief was very much to make it a house for family and for entertaining for guests to be able to stay, but also to be part of the landscape and to make the most of the views,” says Nic.

It was also important to the clients for windows to frame specific views from different rooms which faced from different aspects in the house, but the living area “is all glass”.

The design utilises the simplicity and “materiality” of an iconic farm shed, Nic says.

“While it has a relatively simple L-shaped floor plan, the ridge-line over the living wing was skewed, providing a single pitch to each elevation,” says Nic.

“The result accentuates the house’s form as a piece of architecture that unfolds effectively into its stunning landscape.”

The site is shaded by extremely high hills to the north, especially during winter, which necessitated complex computer modelling of the angles of the sun in relation to the landscape over all four seasons.

Understanding the effect of the sun’s angles became intrinsic to the situation and design of the house.

The design was also heavily influenced by the client’s desire for a warm, well insulated house with a warm colour palette inside.

“The interesting angles of the warped pitched roof are complemented by walls clad in black steel and are nicely contrasted by the warm ply lining in the interior.”

The living area features a skylight that takes in an “amazing” view of the steep hill close to the north side of the house.

With the experience of having had his own house built, Nic is acutely aware that architects’ concepts can cost more money than the client is comfortable about spending.

Consequently with both his and builder Custom Homes input, the cost of the project was reduced from “wildly over budget to mildly over budget.”

Custom Homes owner Greg McLeod said his company had built about 10 homes in the Bob’s Cove area.

The 240sqm Poneke Architects designed house is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

With Greg’s input its foundations were altered from concrete in the original design to piles which were much more cost effective on the sloping site, with the floor up to 3.5 metres above ground level.

“It’s quite simple, but also reasonably high end. When you get into the detail of it, it’s quite architectural and technical.”

“What we find successful is collaboration between the architect and the builder through the design process so that it can be built to budget, that’s quite key.”

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