Wanaka architecture wins big

Photos by Simon Larkin

Wanaka’s architecture was a big winner at the 2017 Southern Architecture Awards in Queenstown last week (Friday June 9), with several prestigious projects scooping awards.

The new fire station on Ballantyne Road by Mason & Wales Architects Ltd earned a commercial architecture award while Assembly Architects, McAuliffe Stevens Ltd, Sumich Chaplin Architects, Rafe Maclean Architects and Eliska Lewis Architects Ltd won in the housing category for projects in Hawea Flat and Wanaka.

The Dacha, pictured, by Eliska Lewis Architects was one of the largest projects in this year’s awards and was praised by judges for the imagination displayed on a residential project of such “considerable scale”.

  •   •  Inside 'The Dacha' by Eliska Lewis Architects. Photo: Simon Larkin

Judge and Queenstown architect Michael Wyatt said that The Dacha was a generous house designed to take full advantage of an amazing view.

“The Wanaka house captures the magnificent landscape from every room and throughout the architect has handled scale thoughtfully and with careful attention to details and materiality,” he said.

Architect Eliska Lewis said that the brief for the design and layout evolved from a repeated phrase - “don’t let the house get in the way of the view, it’s all about the view.”

Four years later, Eliska and her “right hand-everything” Julia Plimmer are “delighted” that their years of hard work have resulted in the award.

“The goal was to allow views of the lake from every room, not only direct views but views through the corners and adjoining rooms to capture more of the panorama,” Eliska said.

To achieve this lots of glass, cantilevers and large spans were needed which brought challenges of how to control shade and sun to maintain a comfortable living environment.

  •   •  Inside 'The Dacha' by Eliska Lewis Architects. Photo: Simon Larkin

Stacking wind screen doors sliding inconspicuously into cavities and a 1.8 metre wide ‘floating’ verandah built without view-obstructing posts were just a couple of design features to ensure the ultimate view.

“A lot of detail went into achieving those goals. Making something look simple is the tricky part in a large scale development like this,” Eliska said.

Julia added that it was also important for the building to be recessive into the landscape from a distance.

“It appeared such a large scale structure when we were doing it, yet we’ve achieved a house that is very recessive on an iconic hillside. You go out on a boat and it’s really hard to spot. We were delighted with how successful that was,” Julia said.

“It’s taken a lot of work accumulated over four years to get to this point. It’s been a big project that took a lot of time away from both of our families, so to get recognition for all of those long hours that you put in makes it all worth it,” Eliska said.


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