Queenstown hotel design shortlisted

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A newly-consented Queenstown hotel and residential village complex has been shortlisted for the World Ar chitecture Festival Awards.

The $100 million 300-unit ‘Ice Hotel’ – a project fronted by long-time local architect Maurice Orr – is one of seven finalists in the ‘Future Projects: Leisure Led Development’ category.

“This is probably beyond my wildest dreams,” Orr says.

“It’s hard enough, often, to just get local awards, so this is real special.”

The architect bought the development’s steep lakeside site beside the Rydges Lakeland hotel in February for $3.1m.

Orr’s designed the complex in collaboration with international award-winning Auckland architect Richard Naish.

The hotel design, over 10 levels between Lake Esplanade and Thompson Street, conjures up images of glaciers, snow and ice.

“It’s uniquely evolved from the environment here, albeit in this case glacial,” Orr says.

A landscape architect’s report on the complex notes: “Using multiple facades and crevices between structures, the building would give the illusion of being several multi-storey buildings.”

The fact the project envisages residential as well as visitor accommodation helps its award prospects, Orr believes.

“It’s also trying to get a really fantastic, I suppose iconic form, as the western boundary of the village of Queenstown, which this site is on by dint of the fact there’s a reserve beyond it.

“From an operator’s point of view, to have an iconic design is very important to today’s hotels,” Orr says.

“In hotel-type projects, on the whole New Zealand probably doesn’t have a great record of designs, so it’s exciting.”

Now that the complex has received a non-notified resource consent, Orr says he can now look for investors.

Though the local apartment market has been difficult, “this is something for the long term”, he says.

“We’re now actually at a perfect time for getting something like this together – we’re in an upward market.”

Orr believes the first stage of the complex could be complete in about three years.

The World Architecture Festival Awards winners will be announced in Singapore in October.