This house is situated on a large site in the gently undulating landscape of rural Wanaka. The brief called for a substantial but understated residence. One which sat well in its rural context, and provided a familiar, warm and comfortable living environment. Planning covenants placed restrictions on height, roof form, materials and position on the site. The overriding concept is a building, which recalls the larger scale rural buildings typical of the area. The northwest (and most visible) elevation of the house presents a substantial, long and low form with a traditional pitched roof. While from a distance the building form evokes images of a large working farm building, the experience when in and around the building is more intimate in scale. As one nears the building the familiar devices of colonnade and covered porch reduce the scale. These transitional outdoor spaces provide the user with a number of different options for how they live in and around the house.

Traditional boundaries between inside and out are blurred by these spaces that also provide shelter from the harsh conditions experienced during summer and winter. Walls of solid plaster, pargeted stone and stained cedar link, the building form with its parched surroundings. The house has been used to create two distinct outdoor spaces, one for morning living to the east and one for afternoon living to the west. On the east side of the house the form is reduced and more domestic in scale. Cedar weatherboards assist in breaking up the form of the building. Here, the existing site contours have been exploited to create a secluded and enclosed private garden/playground for young children. These same contours have also been used to conceal outbuildings and reduce their impact on the landscape. The interior of the house is defined by a large central living space where most of the day-to-day living takes place. This central living space opens directly to other more private interior spaces and provides direct access to the variety of outdoor spaces. The scale of this volume is countered by the use of rustic elements and surfaces. The furnishing is soft, tactile and welcoming. A key element of the house is the covered outdoor space that is accessed directly from both of the living spaces. Sliding doors in this space reference the familiar wool shed. The end result is a home, which is simple and familiar in form but spatially complex.

Photography by Graham Warman

Richard E Shackleton Architects Ltd
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About the

Richard Shackleton BArch Hons (Sydney) FNZIA
This is an award winning design focused firm with over 20 years’ experience in residential, commercial, interior and landscape design.

Richard Shackleton works closely with his clients to achieve elegant architectural solutions. Richards buildings reflect his interest in space, form, light & the environment and how the manipulation of these abstract elements, informs and enhances the way we live.


  • Site selection
  • Concept design 
  • Detailed design
  • Interior design
  • Landscape design
  • Resource Consent applications 
  • Building Consent applications
  • Project administration
  • Project observation