Condon Scott Architects 5 Sugi House

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Barry Condon
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Barry Condon
  • Client
    C & V Stewart

Inspired by Japanese design, 'Sugi House' reflects the compact, considered designed nature of Japanese houses. This carefully planned tiny home is situated on the same site as the extended family’s house, with space enough for the home-owners to relax on their vacations south. With strong materiality, the house is clad in cedar shingles externally with interiors lined in ply, contrasted against board form concrete elements. Designed to withstand and capitalise on the regions extreme climatic conditions, this highly efficient home has employed passive house building techniques in its construction.

It was on a Japanese ski trip that the owners of this Wanaka house came to appreciate the efficiency of small spaces. Staying in a compact two-bedroom vacation home in the mountains, they saw that a small, carefully designed house could be comfortable and pleasant to live in.

Based in Singapore, the family of five took annual trips to Wanaka, usually staying with extended family in an existing four bedroom house on this lakeside site. The idea for Sugi House was conceived to allow for a degree of separation on their trips.

After seeing the Kirimoko Tiny House by Condon Scott Architects, the homeowners engaged architect Barry Condon to bring their new holiday house to life. To Barry, delivering on a Japanese aesthetic meant creating something simple and unobtrusive.

“The aim was for a refined, precise and crafted aesthetic. We have used this mindset throughout, allocating only as much space as is required to each function. The timber panelling and alignment has been carefully thought through to extend the sense of space indoors.”

Due to the size of the site and the brief of space efficiency, the floorplan is tight but carefully considered. The lower floor contains a double-height living and kitchen space separated from the kids’ bathroom and bedroom by the staircase. Upstairs is a double bedroom with ensuite, an office and storage. “Built-in storage spaces were optimised – including shoe racks, hidden cupboards, draws within the steps of the stairs, and built-in shelving in the upstairs loft.”

The interiors deliver on the requested Japanese, minimalist look, with black fittings and joinery contrasted against the timber linings, a sculptural ceiling fan, and flush cabinetry. The wet room style of the compact bathroom is reminiscent of a Japanese spa with floor to ceiling, stone-look tiles.

The house also has a strong materiality externally, with a singular cladding and roofing material of warm cedar shingles, which has the added benefit of being low maintenance. As the house faces the street, glazing is restrained and aimed towards views to the west of Mt Roy. The southern facade is free of windows to prevent the gaze of neighbours as they approach from the access way.

Wanaka is an alpine ski-town renowned for extreme climatic conditions, with very hot summers and cold winters. Building performance with minimal heating and cooling was an essential design consideration. In response to this, the decision was made to construct using SIPS panels, with some passive house techniques also employed.