Fearon Hay Architects completes Mountain Retreat
The mountain retreat is a small structure set within a high country station occupying 1,300 hectares on the south facing shores of Lake Wakatipu, Central Otago. This region of New Zealand is also known as the Southern Lakes. It is an alpine environment formed by heavily glaciated schist mountainscapes and vegetated below the snow line with beech forest.
The design is a simple arrangement of spaces within a predominantly open plan. A main sleeping space opens over the living space and is serviced by a centrally located bathroom. The overlap and combination of sleeping, living and bathing functions allows for flexibility of use, introducing variety and a certain complexity to the inhabitation of a small building.
Entry is gained from the roof with the building concealed from view when arriving at the site. Steel handrails and the flue of the fireplace are the only indications of the space below. Plan and section show the building to be a void removed from the mountain slope. The internal space is extended beyond the natural ground surface with a structure of reinforced concrete blanketed by gravel ballast over the roof and heavily rendered schist cladding to the walls.
The external appearance of the building uses the heavily rendered stone to express a cubic form embedded in the side of the mountain amongst beech trees. The colours and textures of the cladding integrate the building into the gravel tracks, exposed rock faces and scree slopes of the alpine environment.
The architecture seeks to be a subtle insertion in the alpine landscape. The internal environment is both muscular and refined, referencing the toughness of the environment while providing comfort required for a retreat in the mountains.