A Unique Escape – Bivvy House by Vaughn McQuarrie Architects
Lake Wakatipu, New Zealand

Photography Simon Devitt
Words Bronwyn Marshall

A unique escape that takes inspiration from the miners’ huts dotted throughout the surrounding mountains, Bivvy House by Vaughn McQuarrie fulfills a multi-faceted brief in an idyllic setting.

Masculine and bunker-esque, Bivvy House emerges from the geology of the site like an extension of an eroded piece of sediment. Imagined as a place to escape the urbanity of city life, the house is part cabin, part retreat, part shelter and part play space. With such an all-encompassing brief and an enviable location overlooking Lake Wakatipu in New Zealand’s Otago region, Vaughn McQuarrie was able to tap into his own local knowledge and propose a formal response that engages directly with its site. Taking inspiration from the preceding and surrounding mountain huts in the area, the resulting form is both heavily anchored to its sloping site and perches out toward its multiple privileged aspects.

Masculine and bunker-esque, Bivvy House emerges from the geology of the site like an extension of an eroded piece of sediment.

Imagined as a place to escape the urbanity of city life, the house is part cabin, part retreat, part shelter and part play space.

Conceived from a place of balance, Bivvy House needed to sit calmly in the untamed nature it is nestled amongst. The contrast between open and closed, solid and transparent, inside and outside are all key muses for the resulting materiality, form, mass and voids. With clients in want of something different and that challenged the traditional and expected, Vaughn McQuarrie took cues from similar successful prototypes in the area and dissected their comprising parts. Reassembling them, elements such as the stacked stone walls and use of iron and timber are reinterpreted through a contemporary, bold lens. Thermally separated pre-cast concrete coloured to match the underlying schist to wrap the structure, while the internal spaces are clad in cedar and pine panels, offering inviting warmth.

Bivvy House by Vaughn McQuarrie fulfills a multi-faceted brief in an idyllic setting.

By referencing the natural site contour, the structure sits aligned with the original terrain. This intentional repair of the site, adding back the natural fall, also references the winter sun path and survey data from surrounding mountain peaks. There is a deliberate connection to the land, and instead of imposing a glass box perched on the side of the site, the structure embeds itself and, from inside, reveals the external views in a controlled and staged manner. In much the same way as Japanese architects reveal their gardens through controlled vistas and openings, smaller windows offer a preview of the exterior, without being a full reveal. The resulting hierarchy and restraint add an element of depth to the experience of being within and looking out – offering a sense of shelter and protection from the elements.

Conceived from a place of balance, Bivvy House needed to sit calmly in the untamed nature it is nestled amongst.

Thermally separated pre-cast concrete coloured to match the underlying schist to wrap the structure, while the internal spaces are clad in cedar and pine panels, offering inviting warmth.

Bivvy House references the nearby alps and deliberately reinterprets them formally on site. Vaughn McQuarrie has embedded bold gestures into the natural rhythm of the site, and as a result, created an enviable outpost amongst even more enviable views.

Vaughn McQuarrie has embedded bold gestures into the natural rhythm of the site, and as a result, created an enviable outpost amongst even more enviable views.

A Unique Escape Bivvy House By Vaughn Mcquarrie Architects Lake Wakatipu Nz Image 18
With clients in want of something different and that challenged the traditional and expected, Vaughn McQuarrie took cues from similar successful prototypes in the area and dissected their comprising parts.
Published 22 July, 2020
Photography  Simon Devitt
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