Located deep in the countryside of New Zealand’s South Island, the Lake Hawea Courtyard House digs into the earth with a low form and a simple, square plan that recalls the modest settler buildings of the region.
Asked by a retired couple to create a home that "sits on the ground with weight and permanence," Auckland-based architecture studio Glamuzina Paterson responded with a low-slung, stone construction that responds to the extreme climate of inland South Island, where the local temperature varies from hot and dry in summer to bitterly cold in winter. A wall of brick “armor” wraps the rooms and large, bunkered internal courtyard in a single continuous façade, framing views of lofty mountains and rolling plains.
Rusticated clay bricks form the home's unbroken façade, anchoring it to the site and creating the sense of “weight and permanence” the owners desired. The small building blocks added charm and texture, while allowing for a constantly shifting interpretation of scale throughout the project.
The living, dining, and sleeping spaces occupy the northern and eastern edges of the house, following the direction of the southern hemisphere sun. Niches and overhangs in the building protect it from the hot, dry summers and harsh winters.
Breaking up the roof planes and concrete floor plates allowed the house to blend into the landscape. The wall that wraps the building ensures it is still a single, coherent form.
The clients intend to retire to the house. They asked that rooms be constructed flexibly on a non-domestic scale. This one, with an Eames lounge and floor-to-ceiling glass windows, frames a serene mountain vista like a painting.
Overhangs like this one are a simple way of controlling the amount of daylight that comes in to the living spaces. They shield the interior from the glare and heat of the high summer sun, but capture light and passive warmth when it is low during winter.
The protective wall is broken with small apertures, like this wood-panelled door that slides back to allow entry.
With its expansive, geometric design and wide concrete-slab walkways, the enclosed central courtyard around which the house is organized creates outdoor space protected from the sometimes-inhospitable wind out of the northeast.