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Timber Design Awards

House at Rotokauri

Sited on an idyllic vantage point overlooking Lake Rotokauri for Stephanie Treacher and Ron Jackways, the house is formed by two simple wings, rich in detail.

The sculptural simplicity of the building belies its intricate detail. Triangular hollow slatted timber columns diffuse the sunlight at roof level and become the hollow vessels to radiate light across the landscape at night. On the interior of the house, a number of screen walls form niches and are fabricated from grooved MDF boards patterned with circular saw cuts. The perforated boards have narrow focus spot lights behind to cast filtered light across the adjacent walls at night. Cedar cladding is used in a variety of weatherboard profiles to create intricate textures and the illusion of woven surfaces in places.

The plan alludes to a kite, with the primary ‘kite form’ accommodating the main living areas, main bedroom and an outdoor room. The secondary wing – the kite ‘tail’ – is separated by a grassed courtyard, and is for guests. This design approach enables guests to have privacy and their own series of views across the hillside to Lake Rotokauri. It also allows the guest wing to be closed off from the main house when unoccupied. A small office, adjacent to the entry, features magnificent views across to Mount Pirongia.

Architect Geoff Lentz specifically designed a radiata pine frame and structure to avoid structural steelwork on site, but also recognising that the pine is a local and renewable resource. Geoff worked with Stephanie and Ron to select construction materials that minimised the carbon footprint of the building. The house is heavily insulated, and features in-slab heating, solar-water heating, and worm-farm wastewater treatment. The execution of the work by Greg McGovern, building contractor was meticulous, with fastidious attention to the quality and finish of the architectural detail.

  • Large span timber truss and plywood skin construction on triangular plywood boxed columns.
  • The large structural spans enable the north eastern corner of the house to be dissolved to form a covered outdoor room, which addresses equally the two important views east to the lake and northwest to the rolling hills.
  • Vertical timber grillage of western red cedar suspended of triangular column to form a secondary triangular void.
  • Translucent roofing to top of hollow columns to visually disconnect them from the boxed beams.
  • Metal halide lights inside the top of columns radiate patterned light into the house and surrounding lawn.
  • Extensive use was made of Kwila timber battens woven each side of hangers suspended from the boxed truss beams.  The battens create an intricate suspended screen to diffuse the cast sun.
  • On the inside of the house, the back face of an acoustic perforated MDF planking system is used to diffuse light into alcoves.  The planking system is perforated using circular saw cuts, and makes an excellent patterned wall lining.


Highly Commended – Cladding Building Envelope
NZ Wood Timber Design Awards 2009