Emerging out of the landscape like a series of boulders, the Kanuka Valley House set into a lush valley in Wanaka, New Zealand mimics the large schist rocks that punctuate the pristine landscape. Wellington-based architectural practice WireDog Architecture designed the angular home for a winemaker and his family, who wanted the house to respect the beauty of the natural landscape. To that end, the architects not only modeled the building off of local rock formations, but also used a natural materials palette and rammed earth construction to visually tie the home to the land.
Spanning an area of 3,390 square feet, the Kanuka Valley House consists of three northwest-facing volumes carefully positioned to maximize indoor-outdoor living. Floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding pocket doors create a seamless flow between the indoors and out while framing stunning vistas of the Kanuka trees, Lake Wanaka and the snow-capped mountains in the distance.
The outdoors are also pulled in through the abundance of timber surfaces used indoors, from the reclaimed native rimu wood used for floors and ceilings to the cabinetry built of bamboo and OSB. The appliances and other materials, such as the steel counters, also follow the earthy and muted aesthetic.
The beautiful rammed earth walls, which have been left exposed and unpainted, not only tie the building to the landscape, but also have the added benefit of thermal mass. During the daytime, heat is absorbed in the walls, which then slowly dissipate the stored warmth at night when temperatures are cooler. This advantage of energy-efficient construction is strengthened with the addition of triple-glazed windows and deep roof overhangs that mitigate unwanted solar heat gain.
The architects said, “The design engages passive house principles, with attention to insulation detailing, materials, ventilation and heating.”
Photography by Matthieu Salvaing via WireDog Architecture