This Central Otago Home Is Every Minimalist’s Dream

This contemporary high-end two-pavilion home is all about engaging with its mountain setting. Photo / Simon Larkin

A strong home in a strong land, this build by Condon Scott Architects aims for a less-is-more approach, with the contemporary two-pavilion design engaging with its picturesque mountain setting.

Inspired by a site nestled among the vines in the foothills of the Dunstan mountain range in Central Otago, the owners of this striking architectural home wanted to create a permanent home.

They wanted to enjoy the site’s spectacular views westwards to the Pisa Range and below to Lake Dunstan.

Architect Barry Condon of Condon Scott Architects says the owners were looking for a design that could bring all-day sunlight into living spaces, that had a clean and uncluttered feel and captured the huge surrounding panorama.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

“This brief for a minimal form was distilled down to a floor plane and a roof plane, with fully glazed walls between,” says the architect.

“The idea was to create an open pavilion that appeared to almost float over the rocky site, allowing occupants to look up and down the valley in its entirety.”

He says the floating form was achieved by creating a negative space around the perimeter of the ground floor plane, cantilevering the oversized concrete floor slab.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

This reflects the roof form above, sitting three metres high so the mountain range is not cropped from view.

Internally, there are a series of pods containing the services, set back from the glazing line and creating a corridor.

“Windows and internal doors retract into the walls, connecting the interior spaces to the vines and beyond,” says Condon.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

The team faced some challenges. On such an exposed site, extreme wind was a given.

“To address this, the layout of the single-storey home is an H-shaped configuration, creating an arrangement of sheltered terraces and courtyards for outdoor living.”

The architect took a rigorous design approach to make sure the home performed well in the variable climate.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

He says passive solar design was a priority.

The roof plane is cantilevered a metre beyond the ground floor to deflect the sun’s intensity during summer, while allowing sunlight into the home during winter, where heat is absorbed by the building’s thermal mass.

He used natural, locally sourced cladding and construction materials that perform well in Otago and fit the brief for a minimal design.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

The exterior walls are clad in vertical light-stained cedar and schist. Use of this locally sourced stone ties the building to the site’s adjacent rocky schist gully and the region’s pioneering history.

Internally, polished concrete floors and dark-stained timber and veneer continue the minimal palette.

Timber batten ceilings create visual interest and improve acoustic performance.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

To fast-track liveability for the owners, the project was implemented in stages, says Condon.

“The first pavilion built includes living spaces and the master bedroom. The second stage, linked by a glazed hallway, contains the guest bedrooms, laundry and wine cellar and was completed the following year, in 2022.”

He says, despite being based overseas, the owners played an active role during the construction and were involved in site meetings where possible.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

Hurdles such as Covid 19 lockdowns, staff needing to isolate and supply-chain issues all had to be overcome.

“The clients placed a huge amount of trust in the architects and the build team,” says Condon.

The result is a striking form that sits easily within a spectacular New Zealand landscape and was a finalist in the Trends International Design Award (TIDA) – New Zealand Home.

Photo / Simon Larkin
Photo / Simon Larkin

In association with Trends. Architect Barry Condon, Condon Scott Architects For more photos of this home, see

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