Hidden gem: Stacey Farrell's award-winning 'Coast House' at Omaui


A Queenstown architect has won the ‘Green Home of the Year’ award at Home Magazine’s Home of the Year award.

Stacey Farrell, who picked up the award in person at the ceremony in Auckland a fortnight ago, says when she saw the names of the other architects short-listed, she felt like she was
‘‘in with the big guns’’.

The award’s for the ‘Coast House’ she and cinematagrapher husband, Ben Ruffell, built in Omaui, between Invercargill and Bluff.

They completed the house about a year ago, seven years after she began design work on

It has views north across an estuary to Oreti Beach, with native forest out the back and
‘‘amazing birds and wildlife’’.

It has a floor area of 142 square metres, but after a woodshed, storage area and ‘mud
room’ — for wet shoes and coats — it has about 100sqm left over for living space, including two bedrooms.

Like the majority of her architectural work, she’s designed the house using passive house principles, with a focus on ethical, locally-sourced, carbon-neutral products.

It’s specifically designed for its location and climate, she says.

‘‘It’s not a tropical spot, so I wanted to capture a feeling that you’re hunkering down and coming into something to retreat.

‘‘The reality is it’s much hotter in summer than we ever thought it would be, but summers are — like they are in Queenstown — short and sweet.’’

The interior has a ‘‘warm, textured, lodge-like feel’’.

Part of her motivation was to create a place suitable for them and their dog to take a  break, and others like them.

They’ve owned the north-facing, 911sqm site for a decade, camping there and getting to know the area.

While Ruffell cleared vegetation, she climbed trees to work out how to position the house to make the most of the views.

Now they use it as a holiday getaway, as well as renting it out for short-term accommodation.

Farrell, who’s lived in Queenstown for the past 15 years, says the majority of her residential work is sustainable builds, designed for the area’s climate, with low heating and
maintenance costs.

At the same ceremony, a Bannockburn home designed by a Barcelona-based Kiwi,
Bergendy Cooke, won the overall award.