Stunning Wanaka home with lots of natural light

Location: Wanaka

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A Modern, Energy Efficient Holiday Home

This courtyard house is a direct response to the site. The aim of the house was to achieve a home with stunning views, outdoor connection, shelter, and thermal comfort. This was achieved through careful planning and detailing, whilst still expressing form and materiality.

The old Wānaka adage of ‘where there’s a view, there’s wind,’ held true with this elevated site overlooking Lake Wānaka. This was one of the main drivers of the design. Large glazed areas to the North of the house frame the stunning views, giving a light, open feel to the home. Shelter in outdoor living is provided with an internal courtyard. This is as much for outdoor living, as it is for being able to have sliding doors open for fresh air – even with a Northerly wind blowing.

Materiality is expressed in this house to give a feel of traditional Kiwi bach architecture. The post and beam structure gives a classic rhythm along the northern faced with an array of verandah posts. Cedar cladding provides warmth to contrast the hard surfaces of the large expanse of glazing and polished concrete surfaces.

High Performance Building Systems

A reality of this Wānaka site is the cold winter climate, paired with hot summers. To combat this, high thermal detailing was provided in four distinct areas, drawing on Passive House Principles:

  • Glazing: Due to the large area of glazing, high-quality joinery suites were opted for. Triple glazed, argon filled, low E glazing was installed within thermally broken frames.
  • Roofing: Metalcraft insulated panels were used in the roofing. This system removes thermal bridges to avoid heat loss through the ceiling.
  • Framing: Whilst still using conventional framing, this house utilises a practice known as ‘criss-cross’ framing to help reduce the thermal bridging inherent with timber framing.
  • Slab: A fully insulated raft foundation system was installed, with thermally broken detailing. Under-slab, and slab edge insulation greatly reduces heat loss through the house floor.
  • Ventilation: A decentralised ventilation system with heat recovery was installed to wet areas. This controlled moisture in these areas, while recovering the heat produced by showers.

This detailing results in a home that is comfortable year-round, and that costs less to heat. Overall, the project has been a successful response to the site and client requirements for a warm, comfortable, energy efficient home.

Interested in sustainable architecture and high performance homes in New Zealand? Read more about the benefits of an energy efficient home on our blog

Photographer: The Photographer's Studio & Laboratory

Kitchen with island counter and bar stoolsPost and beam structurePost and beam structure for outdoor patioExterior corner view of Wanaka home with post and beam structureExterior view of modern Wanaka home with floor to ceiling windowsLarge living room with floor to ceiling windows overlooking Lake WanakaLiving room and dining area with Wanaka viewsBathroom interior with mosaic sinkEntryway to insulated energy efficient homeSliding doors opening to internal courtyardInternal courtyard designed for shelter and outdoor livingLiving room with fireplace and insulation for heat

Client Testimonial

We’re often asked what we love about our home.

Put most simply, it feels good to be in every room. We love the flow, how spaces are defined and linked, and the natural light in our home.

The house was designed specifically for our site. We enjoy total privacy from the road and protection from the southern aspect. As soon as we walk in the front door the house opens up to allow unimpeded views from floor to ceiling of the lake and mountains to the north. Views of more than 180 degrees from edge to edge are delivered to every living area and to the master bedroom.

The small open courtyard around which our house is built is a much-loved feature. It is open to the sky and fully glazed with sliders, so it offers passage through to every side of the house as well as introducing light into every space. Because of the interior courtyard there isn’t a single corridor in our home. And it’s is a nice sheltered spot for a first coffee.

The den is hunkered down on the southern side of the house so you might expect it to be colder and darker. Instead it’s a room for all seasons. We have spectacular views to the north directly through the interior courtyard and the other living areas. The winter sun streams into the den via this courtyard.

We appreciate the flexibility to re-purpose the den, made possible by the courtyard. Whilst there is usually both a visual & physical connection through the fully glazed courtyard into the den, it can be closed down to give privacy to anyone wanting “time out” or a separate work space.

Adjacent to the kitchen and dining area, facing north to the lake, is an outdoor room we have called our Dropzone. It is nestled a few steps down against the house for wind protection, and to allow for uninterrupted views from the kitchen out to the lake. With the roof continued over and with a glass balustrade, we can enjoy our Dropzone even in mid-winter on a sunny day. Another part of our home we love!

We knew we were building a home with energy and thermal efficiency but we have tended to take it for granted until we’ve visited some other homes in winter! It’s one of the behind-the-scene things we appreciate about our house.

We love our elegantly simple home with clean lines. Our architect thought outside the square to deliver what lies within the exterior walls.” – Lake Wanaka Courtyard House clients