Glenorchy housing solution


A developer applying to build Glenorchy’s first workers’ accommodation is taking inspiration from backcountry huts in the vicinity.

Douglas Rikard-Bell, who moved to Glenorchy last year, has lodged a resource consent application for a complex with up to 52 beds in a mix of shared and self-contained configurations, along with an amenities building.

His company, Blackthorn, plans the complex on a vacant 2019 square metre wrap-around site comprising 49 Oban Street and 38 Coll St, with entrances off both.

“We see having workers’ accommodation as being something that’s really important for Glenorchy, it’s something that’s really short,” Rikard-Bell says.

As he told Otago Daily Times in March, “we’ll work in closely with the businesses to be relevant and make sure that [it] all works for them”.

“They’re not going to be short-term, revolting, cheap sheds.

“I’ll heavily reference the backcountry huts that typify the region, and fire pits and festoon lighting and an upright piano in the lodge room and all that sort of stuff.”

Rikard-Bell tells Mountain Scene: “We don’t want Glenorchy to be something that it’s not, or spoil it, that’s why the mountain huts are really important.

“We want it to look modest from both street frontages, we want it to be interesting and nice.”

A design statement from architects RTA Studio notes that huts were on farms, in the town and in the mountains for use by shepherds, miners, climbers, hunters and the like.

Their early occupants, it says, wore oilskins and crampons and carried ice axes or pickaxes.

“It is this nostalgia that this project seeks to weave into the modern encampment of buildings that make up this worker accommodation project.”

The plan’s for a cluster of single-storey huts with varying metal and timber claddings and gabled roofs.

“The clustering of the huts creates several outdoor courtyards which provide activated, communal meeting spaces.”

The huts all have “a unique outlook to the mountain ranges surrounding Glenorchy”.

Plans provide for 17 on-site carparks, two outdoor campfire areas and an on-site wastewater disposal system.

Rikard-Bell says the development cost is “probably a few million” dollars.

“I think as soon as we get consent we’ll build it.

“In a fair breeze, we might be able to make a start this summer.”

Meanwhile, he’s hoping to lodge a resource consent application to recreate an historic Glenorchy lakefront hotel around October.

Early this year, his company paid $2,495,000 for an 8079sqm site where the historic Mount Earnslaw Hotel stood before it was gutted by fire in 1959.

It contained 23 rooms, but in March he told ODT that “it’s probably got to be a minimum of 40 to work for the operators”.