Text description provided by the architects. On this remote site, where architecture’s neighbour is ecology and geology rather than the built environment, how might we address the problem of the isolated building? The architect’s strategy for a five bedsuite luxury lodge in a remote glacial valley in the NZ Southern Alps explores these questions. The architecture draws inspiration from the imposing grandeur of the vastly scaled glacial landscape and the weaving folded moraine across the valley that ensued - remnant topography from the glacial retreat 10,000 years ago.
The strategy is to bind the building with the land to make it an attribute of the site. The topography is the common ground for Landscape and Architecture to make their contribution to contemporary culture. The lodge effectively forms a new ground; a constructed topography that adds a further fold within the continuity of the existing glacial moraine.
Visitor experience. Gottfried Semper’s (1803 -1879) identifies light and heavy elements of which the hearth is primary. In the Lindis Lodge the visitor experience is encompassed between these two layers; the excavated and embedded new ground in the moraine, beneath intimate low black ceilings and the other light and woven, a soaring timber lamella perched on the riverside edge. A roof that protectively hovers above and most strikingly forms a new and picturesque topography. Here the fragility and exposure of the solitary human figure within such physical and temporal vastness are in turn protected by the enveloping roof. The firelight flickers in the hearth as in a high country musterer’s hut.
Site + sustainability. The site is exposed to an extreme climate ranging from 35°C plus in summer to minus 16°C in winter with regular severe winds. The remote location is served by a fragile single-phase power supply. A backup generator is provided in the buried Energy Shed. The building is provided with a hydronic underfloor heating system, laid directly under-engineered timber flooring to allow for a quick response. Heating and domestic hot water are provided by a geothermal heat pump system complete with a 25x12x3m large ground source collector field. Efficient LPG gas condensing boilers provide backup when needed. Gas fireplaces provide further comfort and atmosphere. Potable water is filtered from the on-site bore and rainwater harvesting system and black and grey water systems discharge to the biodegradable on-site sewage treatment plant. The large overhanging roof incorporates an airtight membrane within the layer of R6.0 insulation. The two facades include low E double glazing with an R-value of 0.9 and thermally broken window frames on the riverside. Heat recovery ventilators provide fresh air and extract air ventilation.
Construction. The detail construction layers of the parametric roof contours, summarised by the axonometric diagram, are the result of an established close collaboration between architect and structural engineer. A full scale prototype piece was built which lead to the invention of ‘screw laminated’ fabrication for the Spotted Gum hardwood lamella enabling a cost-effective on-site assembly of the complex gridshell roof.