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Tom’s House at Lake Wakatipu by Anna-Marie Chin Architects

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Exterior view of Tom's House thermally broken aluminium framed windows with stove chimney pipe
Tom's House sliding glass door entrance with metal cladding
Plywood walls all around the living area with a log burner stove

Overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, New Zealand is Tom’s House, a compact and quirky 156 square meter home with a robust shed-like exterior and a highly sustainable interior which has a welcoming timber glow. Designed by Anna Marie Chin Architects, the house is sited in a settlement called Jack’s Point – a 1200 hectare/3000 acre development with a commitment to only build on 5% of this vast area. The planning philosophy is to tread lightly and integrate a new community into the land without disturbing its intrinsic values. If only that ethos was followed by all property developers!

A hallway with a concrete floor and plywood walls is next to the kitchen counter
A view of the kitchen area with the children looking out of the open window in the attic

Much inspiration for Tom’s House, by Anna-Marie Chin Architects, was derived from this philosophy and sustainability principles are deeply integrated into the design. Aside from it’s sustainability credentials, the small home cleverly incorporates alcoves for storage, the laundry is hidden behind a door in the corridor and the stair balustrade doubles as a bookshelf.

Captivatingly, the architect has added a twist to the simple gabled pavilion architectural style common to the area and has tipped the roofline sideways to follow the line of The Remarkables mountain ranges beyond. It’s one of the many thoughtful architectural features which makes this home such a success.

The kids playing on the couch inside the living room of Tom's House at Lake Wakatipu
The living room walls are all made of plywood, and there is a log stove and a glass door that provides views of the neighbourhood
Corner view of plywood walls bedroom with a light bulb and bedside table

Sustainability specs:
– North facing home, employs passive design principles
– Highly insulated (far exceeding building code requirements)
– Concrete floors used for passive heating
– Thermally broken aluminium framed windows with low-E double glazing
– Air to water heat pump used for hot water and in-slab hydronic heating
– On-site sewerage treatment
– Metal cladding for low maintenance and to withstand the extreme cold
– Robust and low maintenance materials

Close-up view of the metal cladding of Tom's House at Lake Wakatipu with the kids in the sliding glass door
Distant view Tom's House at Lake Wakatipu by Anna-Marie Chin Architects with mountain in the background
Tom's House by Anna-Marie Chin in robust shed-like exterior with metal cladding and stove chimney pipe
Mountain ranges and a neighbourhood can be seen in the backdrop of Anna-Marie Chin's distant shot of Tom's House
From the architect, Anna-Marie Chin Architects:

Tom has a background in industrial design and was accustomed to highly efficient spaces. He knew that a large area didn’t necessarily mean a better space. To be successful, small spaces have to be well designed. The contrast between the verticality and the lower roofs makes the space feel bigger because you are, in effect, getting two experiences.

Images courtesy of Anna-Marie Chin Architecture
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