Wanaka Wedge House

Simple form in a dramatic landscape

  • Type Residential
  • Location Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand
  • Area 2575 s.f.
  • Status Built
  • Date 2019
  • Collaborators

    Construction Documents: Ian Perry, Architectural Designer, I Design, Oamaru, NZ
    Building Engineer: Richards Consulting Engineers, Christchurch, NZ
    General Contractor: Matthew Colebrook, Colebrook & Co. Ltd., Wanaka, NZ
    Wood supplier: John Fairweather Specialty Timber Solutions, Sefton, NZ

Located on an isolated ridge facing the Southern Alps on New Zealand’s South Island, the 3-bedroom Wanaka Wedge House complements the dramatic Central Otago landscape. The geometric-primitive exterior form belies a complex and playful interior. Asymmetric window placement contrasts the simple shape of the house to respond to views and specific proportions of the interior spaces. The exterior of the main house ‘wedge’ is clad in dark gray, corrugated metal panels echoing the contemporary New Zealand vernacular. The contrasting cube of the garage and wine cellar is clad in light gray metal with a matching roof membrane. Both colors had to pass strict planning and design guidelines specifying limits on albedo and hue. On the interior, a surface of custom-milled, locally-farmed Eucalyptus wraps certain floors, walls, and ceilings to thematically separate public and private spaces and lend warmth and dimension to the interior. Sliding panels, blind doors and concealed hardware afford unexpected interior connections. White walls highlight a contemporary art collection and materials meet with simple reveals. Native grasses and plants are gradually restoring the landscape of this former sheep station.

The Wedge House is a prototype originally designed by Min | Day to be adjusted for different sites, originating with a site on the coast of Maine. Plans for the Wedge House may be purchased from Actual Architecture Co.

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Materials and systems were selected to meet sustainability targets and to satisfy design goals highlighting local finishes and craftspeople. The architects replaced the SIP walls of the prototype with a super-insulated wood-frame structure of LVL lumber to avoid the energy intensive importation of materials. The polished concrete thermal-mass ground floor (featuring local river-stone aggregate) is heated in the winter with an efficient hydronic radiant system. The wood-framed upper floor also includes radiant heat between joists. Windows on opposite sides of the narrow house afford natural ventilation during most days while a whole-house fan at the very top of the “wedge” can evacuate heat and pull cool air from the shaded bottom courtyard. Thermal performance exceeds New Zealand standards for a single-family house.

Early morning light

View to the Southern Alps
Section perspective


The Wedge House was featured on Grand Designs NZ in September, 2019. Follow this link to see a virtual tour.

Photography By Dennis Radermacher - Lightforge
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