Hyndman Taylor Architects’ Wanaka Urban Bach

Two sisters, three daughters, one husband, and a brother with a bach next door — this project was quite the whānau affair. “It was very special, like a relay race through the family,” says architect Erin Taylor. “Everyone was involved at various stages and solutions were found by committee in a project to create a holiday home that’ll be theirs for generations to come.”

ABOVE Ready access to decks and courtyards on virtually all sides of the bach avoids the closed-off ‘apartment’ feel that can sometimes occur in homes that are elevated above ground level. Surrounding the front door is a Corten steel projection that creates a portal-like effect. The same material has been used for the raised beds that help to visually anchor the building into the ground and for the chimney (top), all of which will develop an appealing patina over time.

All having vacationed in Wānaka over the years and with their own areas of interest and expertise, every family member had something to contribute. The elder generation got involved in the concept and spatial-arrangement stages, and took on site management, exterior painting and several of the finer details, among them the sculptural front door handle made using timber from one branch of the family’s farm — a piece of home for their home away from home.
One of the daughters, Pōneke/Wellingon-based interior architecture graduate Kate Mabin, works as a freelance designer, artist and illustrator. As well as creating several artworks for the bach constructed by Rutch Building, she collaborated with Erin and Erin’s architect husband/partner at Hyndman Taylor, James Hyndman, on the interior, including joining them at their Queenstown office to finalise the joinery. Eldest daughter Emily is a Melbourne-based landscape architect. She helped to resolve the entry steps and develop the main courtyard, while devising the palette of plants for the garden (the planting and tending of which was later taken on by her father, mother and aunt). Their sibling, Rosie, works in the local ski industry, and brought to the party a pair of nifty outdoor seats made from old chairlifts from the Remarkables ski area.

TOP By Case from Simon James, the Cross Fixed dining table and 675 chairs stand on polished concrete flooring in charcoal PFL677 by Peter Fell, which absorbs heat during the warmer months and provides radiant heat during winter. Overhead is a Moroccan pendant light found on Etsy. Balancing practicality and aesthetics, floor-to-ceiling curtains from Otago Shutters & Blinds create a dreamy mood. ABOVE There’s ample room for everyone around the kitchen island made from Atlantic stone from Artisan Stone, designed for 360-degree gathering and food prep and as a grandstand looking down into the sunken lounge. Tangerine stools by Simon James turn it into a casual dining spot lit by a Dynamo light by Lightplan.

In the beginning stage of designing this two-storey, four-bedroom abode oriented west towards the lake, Erin and James’ initial response to the site was to identify the optimal floor height for a living area raised to take in the views and maximise privacy, yet maintaining links to the garden. “There was a fun moment with the clients and a ladder, exploring and setting this floor height,” says Erin. “It was a cool point in the journey to be up a ladder on this bare land, imagining them perched in their living room and involving them in that decision-making process.”

ABOVE Ashin timber was chosen to clad the interior as a more cost-effective option than the cedar used outside that matches its beauty and warmth. American oak veneer shelving meets a conversation zone created by a built-in couch by Montreux Furniture, a coffee table from Jak & Co, a Radiante wood fireplace by Cheminees Philippe from FL Bone and Falcon chairs by Sigurd Ressell. Disguised as art on the wall is a Samsung The Frame TV.

Settling on half a level above the existing ground plane, the architects then proposed a single-car garage to sidestep the dominance of the typical double garage facing the street and allow the front yard to be landscaped in a more open and welcoming gesture. “The garage extends back, linking to a laundry, rear stair access and a lower bedroom, all of which are sunk into the ground plane,” says Erin. “That’s slightly unusual, but there’s a beautiful moment where the land contours down into the window seat of that bedroom, and you get mountain and golf-course views but it’s still really private.”

ABOVE High sliver windows provide a lake-to-sky panorama in the open-plan zones, and in the kitchen allow a subtle visual link to the brother’s bach next door (best seen in the kitchen shot a bit further up this page), tempered by the placement of the cabinetry designed by Hyndman Taylor and made by B&M Joinery. Having the option of sparkling and instant hot water from the Zenith HydroTap has proved to be a treat, the appliances are by Fisher & Paykel and the Tititea/Mt Aspiring panorama on the angled wall is one of Kate’s works.

It’s the angles expertly cut into the floorplan that enable this duality, and deliver serious interest and incredible outlooks from every room. Proceeding from the front door and up a couple of steps, you enter the main kitchen/dining/living area, a high-ceilinged space in which angled walls create a cosy feel and accentuate the sense of opening out into the view through the bifolds beyond.

ABOVE At the front of the house with its own north-facing courtyard, this bedroom is painted with grey-green Resene Pewter and features a divine moment where the ceiling folds down. A pendant light sourced on Etsy is suspended over the bed made with linen by Foxtrot Home and cushions from The Workroom. On the wall is a topographical map of Wānaka and the floor is warmed by Samurai carpet by Bremworth.

Compelling raked ceilings also add character throughout the house. “A lot of our work explores ceiling-scapes,” says Erin of the assorted swathes overhead — some of which soar as high as 4.8m. “This is a small home, only 185m2, but the generous volumes really help with the denser plan.

TOP With Resene Rumour Has It on the walls and another Etsy pendant light, the ground-floor bedroom is one of two with window seats made by The Workroom that can turn into beds, enabling the house to cater to extra guests. ABOVE The main bathroom works hard for a space with a small floor area, and three people can privately use it at once, thanks to the placement of the basins, toilet, and raised bath and shower zones. Matte finishes were a focus throughout the house for extra texture. The walls of all three bathrooms are clad with terracotta tiles from Middle Earth Tiles and they all use Arena tapware by Nicolazzi from Plumbline with a textural knurled finish.

“Whenever we’re designing, we always come back to how each space feels and use 3D modelling to get it just right,” she continues. “As you ascend from the entry here, you get a sense of release, not only due to the volume and ceiling height, but also the cone shape up to the view. Despite this, it still feels intimate, partly through the slopes, angles and quirks in the plan, and partly through the warmth of the materials and colours.”
Heroes of the material palette include the ashin timber boards that clad the living area (rough-sawn for a less refined look suited to a bach, and with a negative groove to accentuate the individual panels and the geometry of the ceiling) and the tonally rich tapestry of terracotta tiles in the three bathrooms. Both are enhanced by a wider colour palette that brings in hints of the family’s favourite hues, including burnt orange, greens and blues.

The bach is compact, yet cleverly sleeps 13 in three queen bedrooms — two with king-single-size window seats that can be readily converted into beds — and a bunkroom. Comfort, calm and connection to the outdoors and others is encouraged in every instance, including through the bunkroom’s cheeky peephole window and the borrowed view in the front bedroom upstairs, which draws the eye diagonally across the dining space to the shimmering lake.
The collision of awe and accessibility is striking in a dwelling that’s first and foremost family-friendly. “It’s not all white and crisp or super modern, because that’s not our clients,” says Erin. “They’re quite craft-focused and big foodies” — hence the emphasis placed on the functionality of the kitchen and dining zones, and the open-plan layout with the sunken lounge allowing them to effortlessly keep each other company.

TOP Positioned on a mid-level with easy access to bathrooms up and downstairs, the bunkroom pairs Resene True Blue paint with the near-white Resene Alabaster used elsewhere in the house. Kate was instrumental in the project scoring a Resene colour award as part of the NZIA win, and also selected the bedroom linen, including Rhythm duvet sets from Suku Home and block-coloured looks by Bed Threads. ABOVE Alongside the Artiste Rustic Picasso European oak planks from Forté on the floor, the stairwell balustrade is a beauty designed and made by Kate, Hyndman Taylor and metalworkers Stevenson & Taylor to replicate the waterways on the family farm.

“It’s about shared experiences,” says Erin. “There’s an informality to the kitchen. You can sit around the island bench, or hang around the dining table or in the lounge, or extend out to have your G&T moment on the deck or in the adjoining courtyard. There are a lot of different types of gathering spaces in close proximity for different moods and occasions.
“I love the shifting moments as you flow through the building,” she continues. “The angles mean it’s not static, but it’s not angles for angles’ sake — they’re soft and human-scaled.”
Through angles, apertures and more besides, well-considered details enhance the overall enjoyment of this house. As the sun tracks its arc during the day, artful shadows are projected by elements like the pendant light in the dining space and the steel balustrade in the stairwell, which Kate had laser-cut with a design that mirrors the tributaries on the farm.

ABOVE The reimagined chairlifts in the courtyard overlooking the lake gather with Sheepskin Stones by Wilson & Dorset around a fire pit by Heartstone. Echoing the verticality of the low-maintenance FlaxPod Colorsteel cladding, the balustrade grants a view while providing safety and some screening from the road.

Being named a winner in the New Zealand Institute of Architects Southern Architecture Awards was a highlight of this “juicy” project for Erin and James, although Erin says the ultimate thrill was “having clients who wanted to do something different and gave us the opportunity to explore volume in a unique way. I also think everyone playing a role was a key part of the bach’s success — now everyone feels a sense of ownership over it. It feels beautiful — I’m proud of us all.”

Words Philippa Prentice
Photography Sam Hartnett

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