Redcliffs, Christchurch

The clients’ brief for this hill site Superhome was to create a house that captured the stunning views of the Avon Heathcote Estuary and Southern Alps from its prominent site but also excel in thermal performance and earthquake resilience. Designed by Bob Burnett Architecture and built by Dan Saunders Construction. The journey began with a thorough integrated design approach, to take advantage of the shared benefits of various systems and materials from the outset to ensure efficiency and superior quality.

Positioned on the site of a previously earthquake demolished house, Balmoral Ōtautahi aims for enhanced resilience and safety, prioritising minimal and cost-effective repairs in any future seismic events. ‘Out of adversity comes something Super.’ The home’s structure achieves smart integrated design strategies that serve multiple functions. The 185mm thick walls not only offer increased strength against earthquakes, but also space for thicker insulation while providing noise control and accommodating properly implemented edge insulation around the foundations and block walls underneath.

Studying the site’s former house before its demolition allowed the new home’s design to improve and perfect upon its predecessor, confirming how best to integrate into the site and surrounding environment. Expansive windows highlight the stunning views with exceptional thermal performance, using high-performing uPVC, triple-glazed European joinery with an R-value of about the same as a code minimum 90mm wall. In summer, the windows are protected by large eaves and vertical external blinds to prevent overheating, yet sheltered clerestory windows in the split roofs still allow quality morning light to enter deep into the home and gently diffuse throughout, illuminating the artwork gallery.

The home was designed to embrace multifunctionality living at its core. It features an innovative 2-in-1 design, cleverly crafted to accommodate a diverse array of living arrangements. The entire lower-level floor has been designed to offer a completely separate living setup, which features its own kitchenette, laundry, and bathroom. The deck of the main level above even features a grated segment to allow natural light to reach deep into these living spaces below.

The high, voluminous ceilings create a luxurious sense of space, yet the home is still cost-effective to heat and cool, thanks to the WarmthNZ central heating, Moisture Master ventilation systems and generously thick airtight walls. Fully insulated foundations use Firth Ecomix concrete with 40% fly-ash resulting in 40% less carbon. Crafted from cross-laminated timber (CLT) panels, the ceilings form the underside of the SealCo warm roof with continuous insulation, combining structural integrity with aesthetic appeal. The ‘japandi’ design embraces natural materials throughout, as well as retaining as much established landscaping and trees as possible, helping to enhance the occupants’ mental well-being through biophilic design principles and the Japanese practice of ‘shinrin-yoku.’