Ready for the elements..

Tim Dorrington Architects completes all-weather house on tricky flood-plain site

The Rutherford House is located in the Taupo Tauranga settlement on a spit of land, bordered on one side by the famous trout fishing Taupo Tauranga River and on the other side by a DOC reserve, which itself borders Lake Taupo. This wonderful situation brings with it some risk, notably the existence of a flood plain running over the entirety of the site between the river and the lake, which requires minimum floor levels to be adhered to. On this site the required floor level is approx 800mm above natural ground level.

The brief was to create a modern holiday house suitable for the hot summers of Lake Taupo and the cold winters for skiing on Mt Ruapehu. The house also needed to work for use of the immediate family and the extended family and friends. Formally the house proper has four main elements; (i) a concrete base, which at some points is folded up to contain interior space between, (ii & iii) two black cedar clad bedroom blocks and (iv) a white structured ‘verandah’, which one of the black boxes appears to slip under. The concrete base provides the required floor level rise above natural ground to suit flood plain requirements. It also provides the opportunity for intermediate zones between inside and out. With raised decks from both the main living room and second lounge creating elevated and, in the case of the front deck, covered out door spaces.

The living area has several layers of space to suit differing climates, activities and degrees of privacy. Firstly the large open plan ‘verandah’ space with kitchen, lounge and dining. Lowered off this space is a snug with fireplace that on colder days can be closed off from the main space. Thirdly there is the top floor sitting room, providing a private space to retreat to.

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