Hidden Hills House
In an age where big is perceived to be better, Hidden Hills House bucks the trend. A modest programme of 140m2 for a family of four has generated spaces that are completely utilised and enjoyed.
The design ethos for Hidden Hills House derives from the vernacular of the New Zealand trampers hut; a humble dwelling of simple form, materials and construction that nestles unpretentiously within the natural environment. The expression of the dwelling reflects the persona of its inhabitants – outgoing and adventurous with a passion to explore.
Obliquely positioned, the entrance sequence is one of seclusion and surprise. The design consists of articulated separate buildings (huts), minimising the effect of building programme and volume within the landscape, while creating differing experiences, as one journeys from hut to hut.
Externally, the material palette is simple and follows the language of the trampers hut. The bedroom 'hut' is clad entirely in Douglas fir weather boards with natural stain finish, and floats apart from the main living hut with a quazi-open entrance link; portraying the feeling of walking outside. This experience is heightened when commuting to the guest hut, with a completely open transition.
The unfinished plywood interior walls and natural steel surfaces encourage an imperfect and patinaed appearance. Juxtaposed with this muted palate are injections of coloured surfaces; playful and individual notes each hut.
The building forms and materials have a narrative to tell; like a hut at the end of a long day's tramp they suggest a safe, welcoming environment that has evolved over time, nestled within its natural setting.
Each of the forms were carefully positioned in the landscape to retain the existing Kanuka vegetation, ensuring impact to the immediate environment was minimal. The building is positioned north-westly, naturally facing the surrounding environment. To mitigate the potential for overheating, a large veranda provides shelter to the living hut, with bedroom huts positioned perpendicular. Windows are thermally broken with Low E glazing, to minimise the Wanaka summer heat and maximise the heat retention during the winter months.
Deviating from the Central Otago love affair with Canadian cedar, the house is clad in New Zealand grown Heart Douglas fir, thus minimising the carbon footprint while supporting sustainable growth forests.
Heating is primarily sourced through a cost-effective air-to-water radiator system, easily reaching comfort levels due to small and contained spaces, as well as high insulation levels.