Ar Hā Retreat

Ar Hā Retreat

Tennent Brown Architects
Glenorchy, New Zealand | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Jonny Davis

Ar Hā Retreat

Tennent Brown Architects as Architects

The Aro Hā Retreat is a yoga and wilderness retreat at the head of Lake Wakatipu with a vision to create a community space that fosters the connection between nature, wellness and humanities’ need for transition to a regenerative existence.


The brief called for a 16-32 bed retreat with main yoga- Aro Hā room, spa and an associated residential community for staff, founded on permaculture principles  and capable of functioning  off grid for periods of time. The site is on elevated schist foothills of the Richardson range near Glenorchy, overlooking the Lake and Greenstone Valley.


The central siting concept for the design of the retreat is a necklace of buildings laid out on a path. This path reflects the journey which Aro Hā seeks to support for the guests; the provision of a transition space to enable growth in wellbeing.


The architectural language developed for the project draws from the natural environment. The forms are sculpted, typically mono-pitched with a singular weathered grey colouring to roof and walls, reflective of rock outcrops, and blending into the natural environment. Local stone building elements are used sparingly and as anchors to otherwise timber-clad forms.


The windows on the sunny faces are typically recessed into the building form in niches, to provide shading, in lieu of overhanging eaves, and provide measured solar gain for the passive house construction. 


The Aro Hā room has a billowed acoustic timber ceiling and timbered surfaces overlooking the empty surface of the Lake.


Almost every conceivable energy generation system is employed: solar thermal and wood boiler, interconnected with a district heating scheme from thermal vessels, ground and roof based PV arrays, and microhydro generating into a large battery store.


Food production is integrated into the architecture with solar capturing greenhouses and winter gardens for extending the growing seasons.


Material Used :
1. Techlam – Glulam portal frames – Standard product range
2. Hermpac – Vertical shiplap Weatherboards
3. Rosenfeld Kidson & Co. - Board & Batten cedar weatherboards
4. Artedemos – Stone paving - Bescagli Italian Travertine, Honed
5. Hermpac – Interior Wall linings – Timber Panelling

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Product Spec Sheet

Vertical shiplap Weatherboards, Interior Wall linings – Timber PanellingHermpac
Board & Batten cedar weatherboardsRosenfeld Kidson
Product Spec Sheet
Vertical shiplap Weatherboards, Interior Wall linings – Timber Panelling
by Hermpac
Board & Batten cedar weatherboards
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