Stackbrae Wanaka wins NZIA Southern Architecture Award 2019

Assembly Architects won an NZIA Southern Architecture Award in the category of Multi-unit Housing for the Stackbrae subdivision, Wanaka at the awards event held at Skyline Queenstown on Friday 7 June 2019.

The jury cited: “The individual components of the project are simple designs that respond to the Central Otago climate, but the careful planning gives the neighbourhood a cohesive quality that is greater than the sum of its parts. The architects have talked the talk and walked the walk in convincing a developer client to trust them and aspire to excellent outcomes.”

The  jury was made up of Invercargill architect Roger Beattie, Queenstown architects Bronwen Kerr and Mark Gray and Auckland architect Megan Rule. 

Stackbrae is an alternative quality model for suburban development, in a context where architects and design seldom have influence and group-home design and build dominate.  The project involved master planning the subdivision, and the design and consenting of 31 homes, both stand-alone and duplex.

The Wanaka based developer sought a strong design outcome and with the architects devised a new market model – investing in master planning, and the design and building consents for every home.  

The principle was simple: maximise sun, privacy, views and quality outdoor space.   Dwellings are predominantly L shaped, massing on lot edges allowing sun into the middle of the site, directly challenging district plan setback rules.  Boundary walls are without windows and rendered in quality materials, making fences redundant. Land packages were sold with consented plans and a covenant to build in accordance.  

This model contributed to a cohesive development, and eliminated design and consenting time and cost for purchasers, so homes could be built without delay after settlement.  

Abodo, Cardrona announced

Abodo_by Assembly Architects ODT

A $6 million development starting in the Cardrona Valley early next year is not designed to showcase holiday chalets but a new eco-friendly radiata pine product, used as cladding for both internal and external use.

Abodo Wood director Daniel Gudsell, of Auckland, said he expected it to take some time to build up interest and orders for the cladding but the chalet development would introduce the product to the market.

“We wanted something suitable for the dry and harsh conditions in Central Otago,” he said in an interview.

Builders would expect untreated radiata to last “only two or three years” outside, but Abodo’s “baking process” altered and strengthened the soft timber’s cellular structure, he said.

The process was developed in Finland more than 20 years ago.

Abodo steam-heats and “bakes” clear-grained radiata pine to about 230degC without the addition of chemicals, which doubles its stability and leaves it with just 7% moisture content.

It can be left in its chocolate coloured finished state or penetrating oil can be applied to produce a range of finishes.

The chalet development is using Arrowtown-based Assembly Architects and Mr Gudsell said local builders would soon be employed, while internal fittings would be made in a local joinery shop.

Aside from individual houses, it is Abodo’s first outright South Island development.

Abodo is an Auckland-based private family business, with a $45million annual turnover. It exports about 70% of its products to Australia, the UK, Western Europe and Southeast Asia.

Mr Gudsell concedes the company “is playing the long game” in the Cardrona Valley, in that new materials have to be seen to be working, and weathering local conditions.

However, he hopes the importation of Canadian cedar from 200-500 year-old trees will eventually diminish.

“People can see it [up] for two or three years and can then decide to take it seriously,” he said.

The Vulcan Cladding complies with the New Zealand Building Code, has a 15-year warranty against decay and is certified by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, under its Codemark programme.

Mr Gudsell wanted people to see that aside from being chemical-free, there was a local alternative to imported cedar that could withstand the harsh alpine climate.

He added most people did not realise much of the imported high-grade cedar was from old-growth trees, which had damaging ecological, economic and cultural impacts in the country of origin.

The first development phase in the Cardrona Valley will be a 102sqm show home, architecturally designed to evoke local farm sheds and huts.

After that will come seven stand-alone chalets of about 150sqm, each with three or four bedrooms. The chalets will be rented to visitors.

Some Abodo timber components were used in the construction of Camp Glenorchy’s sustainable cabins two years ago.

Mr Gudsell said there were no plans to sell the Cardrona accommodation chalets, as he wanted them to be a “showcase village” for Abodo’s Vulcan Cladding, which was also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

“It’s important people can see them over a period of time.”

He wanted to demonstrate how the New Zealand plantation-grown timbers performed in the challenging “hot one day, cold the next” Central Otago environment.

The more than 5000sq m block of land on Cardrona Valley Road is about three blocks away from the Cardrona Hotel.

Mr Gudsell hopes the company’s annual processed timber sales will almost double over the next three years, to about $80million. The United States will be the next offshore market to look at.

At present all the timber is from renewable North Island forests, but high inter-island transport costs already have Mr Gudsell considering buying South Island timber and having it milled locally.


NZIA National Award 2018 shortlisting x2

This week, Architecture Now announced the shortlist for the New Zealand Institute of Architects national awards programme.  Two Assembly projects have made the shortlist – Sawtooth in the housing category, and Binoculars in the multi-unit housing category.

The two projects are the only Queenstown Lakes projects on the Shortlist.  The houses will be visited in person by the National Jury, led by Convenor Richard Goldie.

Binoculars recently won accolades at the Master builders awards for Bennie Builders.





Assembly designed Stackbrae features in the latest HOME New Zealand magazine in their “off the shelf” section dedicated to solving the housing crisis with clever thinking…

Pick up a copy today!

HOME August 2018 Assembly

Binoculars wins NZIA 2018 Southern Architecture Award

2018 Southern Architecture Awards WinnerBinocularsQueenstown copy

The Binoculars houses picked up a New Zealand Institute of Architects 2018 Southern Architecture Award at a ceremony held at Toitu, Otago Settlers Museum on Friday 8 June.  The project won the only award in the multi-unit housing category.

Clients Paddy and Brian Stafford-Bush were thrilled with the award, and celebrated the award with their daughter Mia and son-in-law James Bennie of Bennie Builders, who built the award winning home.

The award citation is below:


Two houses with mirrored plans share a site, a wall and an entrance to make a complete whole. Two homes, twice the fun? The eye is not cheated here; the level of detailing elevates materials beyond their fundamental form, and everywhere you look there is something in which to take delight, including out front, where twin decks, seemingly unsupported, push bravely out towards the lake.