Wanaka Wedge House

Simple form in a dramatic landscape

  • Type House,
  • Location Central Otago, South Island, New Zealand
  • Area 2575 s.f.
  • Status Built
  • Date 2020
  • 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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Residential Design Magazine

Dramatic and deferential at the same time, Wanaka Wedge House soars. – Claire Conroy

View of the main living space. Photo by Mickey Ross

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.

The form of the Wedge reaches toward the mountains beyond. Photo by Mickey Ross

Views of the courtyard perforated screen. Photo on the right by Mickey Ross

Bottom of the Wedge courtyard. Photo by Mickey Ross

Main Bedroom and passage from stair. Photos by Simon Devitt

Views of the top end of the Wedge. Photos by Mickey Ross

Early morning light

From The Local Project:

Responding to its dramatic and embracing landscape, Wanaka Wedge House is a bold insertion, sweeping upward from the earth and opening to carefully placed apertures above. With restraint and considered rigour, Actual Architecture Co curates a home inspired by both simplicity and drama, deeply connected to place.

View to the Southern Alps

Since construction, the native grasses around the house have been restored. Photo by Mickey Ross

Wedge below the Wedge: The house is supported by a 6.6kW photovoltaic array with a Tesla Powerwall battery system. The array is hidden from view from the house and the road by low brush and the natural grade, yet fully exposed to the sun to the north.

Section perspective
2020 AIA Nebraska Honor Award, Jury Comments

The simple geometric form and subtle detailing establish a strong relationship to the stunning surroundings; this project operates on a number of scales. The understated exterior conceals the spatial complexity of the interior wrought almost entirely through the section.


The Wanaka Wedge House is the winner of The Plan Award, 2021 in the "House - completed" category.

Project Awards

2023 AIA Central States Region Honor Award

23rd Annual ARCHITECT Residential Architect Design Awards, Honor Award, 2022

The Plan Award 2021, Winner “House” category, The Plan Magazine, 2021

2021 Residential Design Architecture Awards, Citation

Dezeen Awards 2020, longlisted Architecture project

2020 AIA Nebraska Honor Award for Architecture


The Wedge House was featured on Season 05 of Grand Designs NZ in September, 2019. Follow this link to see a virtual tour

Photography By Dennis Radermacher - Lightforge, unless otherwise noted.
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