Nature Nurtured

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March 4, 2009
Originally published in Learning From Down Under
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  When Bronwen Kerr and Pete Ritchie decided to relocate from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, to Queenstown, on the country’s South Island, they designed a new home for themselves and their three children on a site Ritchie had purchased when he was living in the area—a stunning lakeside plot. Working in partnership, the couple devised a home and studio that is separated by a passage through the middle of the building.
    When Bronwen Kerr and Pete Ritchie decided to relocate from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, to Queenstown, on the country’s South Island, they designed a new home for themselves and their three children on a site Ritchie had purchased when he was living in the area—a stunning lakeside plot. Working in partnership, the couple devised a home and studio that is separated by a passage through the middle of the building.
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  The sunny side of the home is clad in cedar weatherboards and features sleeping quarters on the upper level with living spaces below.
    The sunny side of the home is clad in cedar weatherboards and features sleeping quarters on the upper level with living spaces below.
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  One bathroom features a ladder that leads up to a yoga studio.
    One bathroom features a ladder that leads up to a yoga studio.
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  The kids, Archie, Linus, and Olive, stand in the kitchen, beneath the strand board–clad stairwell that leads to the bedrooms. Kerr and Ritchie initially envisaged rich materials for the interior, but changed their minds in favor of what they call a “cartoony” approach with cheaper, hard-wearing elements. “We didn’t want the space to feel too grown-up,” Kerr says.
    The kids, Archie, Linus, and Olive, stand in the kitchen, beneath the strand board–clad stairwell that leads to the bedrooms. Kerr and Ritchie initially envisaged rich materials for the interior, but changed their minds in favor of what they call a “cartoony” approach with cheaper, hard-wearing elements. “We didn’t want the space to feel too grown-up,” Kerr says.
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  Queenstown gets cold in winter, hence the installation of a sauna. Outside, the landscaping was kept deliberately casual, with rock walls and gravel paths.
    Queenstown gets cold in winter, hence the installation of a sauna. Outside, the landscaping was kept deliberately casual, with rock walls and gravel paths.
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  The home is made up of two parts: a rear wing containing the studio and a guest room, and the north-facing living quarters (which, in the southern hemisphere, attract the most sun) overlooking the lake.
    The home is made up of two parts: a rear wing containing the studio and a guest room, and the north-facing living quarters (which, in the southern hemisphere, attract the most sun) overlooking the lake.
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  The home is mostly clad in black trapezoidal-profile steel, with cedar boards lining what the owners call the “human spaces”—external passages between buildings. A solar hot water system perches on the roof.
    The home is mostly clad in black trapezoidal-profile steel, with cedar boards lining what the owners call the “human spaces”—external passages between buildings. A solar hot water system perches on the roof.
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  Kerr Ritchie Architects’ studio at the rear of the building opens onto a lawn on the lake side of the home. The form evolved during planning from a “modernist box” into a “strong, sculptural” frame.
    Kerr Ritchie Architects’ studio at the rear of the building opens onto a lawn on the lake side of the home. The form evolved during planning from a “modernist box” into a “strong, sculptural” frame.
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  Linus, Archie, and Olive relax on the home’s cedar-lined front deck that opens off the main living area.
    Linus, Archie, and Olive relax on the home’s cedar-lined front deck that opens off the main living area.
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  The main living area. The home is flanked on the east by a precipitous mountain range named The Remarkables. In summer, the weather gets hot enough for the family to go swimming and boating.
    The main living area. The home is flanked on the east by a precipitous mountain range named The Remarkables. In summer, the weather gets hot enough for the family to go swimming and boating.
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  The location on the shores of a small bay means it is sheltered from cold southerly winds. The alpine location provided plenty of inspiration for landscaping, which Ritchie and Kerr elected to keep as minimal as possible, as if the home had landed on its site with as little disturbance or alteration as possible.
    The location on the shores of a small bay means it is sheltered from cold southerly winds. The alpine location provided plenty of inspiration for landscaping, which Ritchie and Kerr elected to keep as minimal as possible, as if the home had landed on its site with as little disturbance or alteration as possible.
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