“In this project, or any alteration, there’s huge potential for scope creep,” says Rafe Maclean. “So from the beginning, we made it clear what parts we were working on – and that was it.” Employed to add space at this Wānaka family bach, the architect honed in on three key objectives: Replacing a small, cold breakout room with a bigger living area; introducing a new garage (the owners had converted the original into a bunk room long ago); and translating the space between these two new forms into a gracious entrance and courtyard.
The holiday home sits on a quiet street, a few back from the lakeside town centre. Incorporating stonework, concrete block and plenty of glazing, the original design suited its area and era, but didn’t pull any big creative moves. That left Maclean plenty of room to explore. He began by replacing the old breakout room with a dark, cedar-clad box, subtly cantilevering the crisp extension so it almost appears to be floating. “That connection to the ground was really key from the start, explains the architect, who worked on the project with colleague Sarah Wild. “Lifting it up made it shine on its own – a little elevated jewel on the site.”
The contemporary living room addition settles well alongside the original home thanks, in part, to sympathetic materials and borrowed elements. The mono-pitch roof, for instance, mirrors that of the old bach but adopts a much higher stud. “We did that to add some clerestory glazing towards the east and bring light in over the top of the existing house,” explains Maclean. Most of the natural light, though, comes from the generous feature window up front, which delivers lake views the old room had neglected to mention. A deep window seat capitalises on the unveiled outlook, while a battened-timber screen slides across for privacy and sun protection. It’s a winning curtain alternative, and when closed up at night, the dark box glows, its soft light diffusing through the tall slatted timber.
By building the double garage down by the road, Maclean got rid of the old U-shaped driveway that used to loop past the house. The new arrangement makes a much easier job of parking the family boat but also allowed him to reclaim that space for a more purposeful entry court.
Scattered with local rock, plantings and an outdoor dining area, it’s very zen-like. Maclean has placed equal emphasis on the built form and surrounding spaces in this renovation, and it’s a balance that serves the home and its family well.