The site is approximately 4.3 hectares and is located near the top of Worsleys Spur in the Port Hills overlooking Christchurch. It is moderately steep and runs down to the valley floor. Due to the 2017 Port Hills fire, the owners previous home was destroyed and the site was cleared of vegetation. There are expansive views over the city and across the plains to the Southern Alps and Kaikoura ranges. The site is extremely exposed to sun and extra high winds.
The house is designed for overseas clients and their Christchurch based representative’s family. Most of the house is on the ground floor level in an L-shaped plan, with a private suite on the first floor. There was a rigorous design process to understand the clients cultural wishes, often through an interpreter.
The building is arranged to create multiple sheltered zones with large roof overhangs. Full height glazing throughout allows expansive views out over the valley and to the courtyard garden behind whilst being protected inside. Several landscaped berms enhance the pockets of private retreat sheltered from the wind, sun and adjacent road.
External materials were selected to shelter and anchor the house in the site. The ground floor is set on a concrete slab, with dark painted plastered concrete block walls to the main living, garage and utility spaces. Pockets of recessed cedar weatherboards and glazing between wing walls break up the linear ground floor, demarcating individual rooms. The top floor utilisesanodised aluminium cladding which is both light weight and low maintenance. Internal materials were kept light and natural to enhance the feeling of calm and protection in the extreme environment.
The house is separated into wings (ground floor and upstairs) which allow various spaces to be shut down when unoccupied. The simple linear floor plan is orientated north, allowing natural light into each space while large roof overhangs ensure adequate shade. Numerous openings provide ample natural ventilation.
Durable material finishes reduce ongoing maintenance (and scaffolding) requirements.
The house has on-site stormwater storage to re-use as irrigation for the extensive landscaping and re-vegetation of the site (post-fire).