Soffit, so good: An overhanging roof edge makes this Crown Terrace home one of a kind


It’s not a bad place to be locked down in.

‘Royalburn Hideout’, on the CrownTerrace, above Arrowtown, is one of the Wakatipu’s most distinctive homes.

What makes it one-of-a-kind is a length-of-the-house overhanging eave, or soffit.

The three-bedroom home was designed a few years ago by local award-winning studio, Kerr Ritchie, comprising architect Bronwen Kerr and her landscape architect hubby, Pete Ritchie.

The timber used is a clear pine from Estonia called heat- rather than chemically-treated.

Amazingly, the timber’s bleached grey where the sun’s hit it, but remains brown where it hasn’t.

Royalburn Hideout – only 221 square metres, including the garage – is the family home of Liisa and Patrick Garceau and their two young boys.

Liisa says their brief to Kerr Ritchie was “we wanted to feel like we were outside even when we were inside, and that the house fits the land, and they executed it so well with the big windows and the open spaces”.

“They really listened to us, and they talked us out of certain things.”

While nestled into the landscape, she points out you also get great mountain views.

Ritchie notes that the big north-facing soffit “gives you a little bit of sun protection as well as being quite a sculptural form, I suppose”.

Sculptural: The soffit provides sun protection, and a sculptural element

Liisa says you can’t even see the eave from the inside of the house, “but it blocks the sun coming into the kitchen area”.

Before the house was built, the family lived in a caravan on the property.

“That was really beneficial [for the design] as we got to observe the sun and how it was changing all the time through the year,” Liisa says.

The home’s south side is also interesting as it runs alongside Royalburn Creek.

It fits in well, too, with existing ponds – “they just had a little bit of tweaking to tidy them up”, Ritchie says.

It was also important for the Garceaus their home was very enviromentally friendly.

It was built by Sean Anderson, from local firm Climate House, and was constructed using structural insulated panels from NZSIP Smart Panels in Cromwell.

The foundation was insulated, solar panels were installed, and there’s heat recovery through a Nilan mechanical ventilation system.

“We’re using very little energy to maintain the heat in the house”, Liisa says.

She pays credit, too, to their interior designer, Queenstowner Carmen Hubber.

“She designed the furniture to sit quite low, so it made the space look larger than what it actually is.”

An artist, Liisa’s also delighted that just before lockdown her art studio/woman cave arrived.

It’s a retro-fitted container – which was delivered on the back of a truck.