Terrace Downs Home - South Architects | ArchiPro

Terrace Downs Home

Set against the dramatic backdrop of the Southern Alps at the base of Mt Hutt, the soaring roof planes and asymmetrical, abrupt lines of this family home accentuate the crests and valleys of the mountains that rise behind it.

Designed, by Craig South and Cymon Allfrey, for an active family as a home away from home, this house had to provide the everyday comforts of a primary dwelling while offering a relaxed, rural appeal. In the Canterbury village of Terrace Downs, about an hour’s drive from Christchurch, the setting is one of dramatic mountain views, bitterly cold winters and hot, dry summers. Here, a rural subdivision with large sites houses a number of traditional alpine homes, each built within the confines of strict guidelines. “Our aim was to stretch the notion of what an alpine home can be, while remaining within the guidelines for this site,” lead architect Craig South of Allfrey + South Architects said.

“Connection with the environment through architectural language was the basis of the design rationale.”

That connection translated into a design dramatic yet unobtrusive in its contextual setting. As the site backs onto a golf course, the living areas were raised to take advantage of both the green visible from the site and views of the soaring mountains that reach into the sky behind. “The choice to raise the main living areas to the first level meant we were able to take full advantage of the two key aspects, both from the internal living space and a large west-facing deck.” A second deck area off the living area is oriented to the east and was envisioned as a space to enjoy morning views out towards Snowy Peak. “This smaller deck is a coffee place, designed for taking in the morning vistas and sun, while the main west-facing deck allows for extended evenings outside with the most dramatic views directly over to Mt Hutt,” Craig said.

The home incorporates four bedrooms, three bathrooms and voluminous spaces for entertaining and for the occupants and their guests to relax and enjoy the picturesque surrounds. “The rural setting was pulled into the design not only by maximising the views but with the materials chosen.” 

Externally, naturally-stained vertical cedar cladding is juxtaposed with areas of cedar stained in darker tones to create a sense of movement and contrast within the overall form. The gabled roof form is asymmetrical to capture the best angles of the surrounding vistas from every space in the home. Internally, this allows for a voluminous living area that pares back as you move down through the home and into the entranceway. Externally, the falling roof line creates additional shelter over the main entry. This feature, perhaps, is the most enigmatically harmonious with the natural surrounds; a nod to the irregular contours of the alpine forms that rise beyond.

In conjunction with the falling roof line, the traditional gabled form is modified to create an irregularity of angles and spaces. “In the kitchen, the gabled form is broken and splayed out to create additional areas in which to maximise the mountain views. On the other end of the room, the intersection between the cut-off gabled form and the rest of the ceiling provides a lovely detail.”

The intersection is painted, drawing the eye towards the ultimate verticality of the space and accentuating the timber ceiling. The oak floors and steel used in the kitchen and the fireplace come together to create a unified sense of the rural setting. “We wanted to achieve the perfect balance between the amenity required and the rural element of the home with the use of materials,” Craig said. Approaching this home, it has a somewhat rugged form, fitting and contextual, yet in its immediacy the house has a relaxed, contemporary feel with an earthen, natural aesthetic. It is a home designed to withstand the elements while simultaneously drawing various aspects of the landscape into its confines. In these harmonious interactions, the home sits gracefully on its sub alpine site.

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