100 Aker WoodRural house and running pavilion

100 Aker Wood

Christchurch, Canterbury, New Zealand 2016

The hills above Tai Tapu are a volcanic landscape covered with fine loam soils and views across the Canterbury Plains, from Lake Ellesmere through to the Southern Alps. Our A. A. Milne loving clients purchased a forestry block of approximately 100 acres, with a vision to build a house for themselves and their extended family, a series of running tracks and a semi-public pavilion for their running club.

A narrow country lane approaches the house from below, articulating the separation of public and private areas along a driveway that ascends past the pavilion and culminates in a central courtyard. The pavilion is terraced into the slope, articulated by and connected to the rest of the structures by a stone wall built using stone that was uncovered during the course of the excavations into the site. The height of this structure was carefully considered to not impede the outlook of the main house. A tussock roof further anchors the pavilion into the landscape.

The entry courtyard is bound on one side by a long and low farm implement building, dug into the hill that rises alongside the buildings. The far side is bordered by the guest house, linked and running perpendicular to the main house. The far corner of the courtyard ramps down to the subterranean garage for the main house. The approach to the house wraps around the courtyard and faces out to the Alps in the distance. The entrance is marked by black stained timber double doors that have been CNC sculpted to evoke the approach to a Japanese Ryokan.

The main house and guest house are defined by 3 equally dimensioned precast concrete volumes, articulated according to their functions and outlook and linked by gable roofed elements. The strategy of 3 repeating volumes was party driven by a desire to have a cost efficient production process, and partly because the initial brief included the desire to potentially stage the project. A repeating geometry allows for the ‘missing’ to be inferred. The three volumes also create a series of courtyards and axial views throughout the house.

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  • Daniel Marshall
  • Shiqi Shelley Lin
  • Mike Hartley
  • HOUSES – HOUSES NZ - winter 2018, issue 48, Architects in Profile pg. 38-49