A blackened steel and schist rock partially-sunken bunker-style 2277sq m home is being planned by tech multi-billionaire Rod Drury on a picturesque site in the dramatic area between Lake Hayes and Arrowtown.
Earth mounds are to be created around the new home whose lower level will be dug down below ground level, reducing the dominance of the finished building to minimise effects on the iconic landscape.
“Shelter, privacy and visual screening” are aspects cited in the application to the Queenstown Lakes District Council to develop the two-level home with a tennis court and tennis pavilion.
One local estimated Xero’s founder was spending tens of millions on development work in the area but that is not confirmed.
High-end corporate events and functions could be held in what the local said were significant plans by Drury who founded the tech firm listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
The property is on the popular rural Speargrass Flat Rd, close to Millbrook Resort and Country Club and The Hills golf course developed by jeweller Sir Michael and Christine Hill.
Drury is the son of a tradesman and an executive assistant who grew up in Hawke’s Bay but stepped down as Xero chief executive in 2018.
Reports say he has retired to the Queenstown area, having left Hawke’s Bay and documents submitted to the council showed the applicant for the new house is Duncan Cotterill Nominee (Hawkes Bay) Limited. But the name R Drury is also on application documents seeking to extend an existing farm building which is a hay shed, also on the property.
NBR has estimated he has a $1.95 billion fortune. Approached for comment today about the planned house, Drury said he didn’t wish to discuss it.
His land is in the Wakatipu Basin on a 29ha site in the area known locally as the Wharehuanui Hills. House plans submitted the council also label the new home Wharehuanui – whare being house,nui being big.
Top-end builder Triple Star also has its names on the Wharehuanui application documents. It describes itself as a full-service award-winning project management and construction company, specialising in “high-end/luxury homes and commercial developments”. Triple Star’s work has included building homes at the secluded Wyuna.
Designs for the new home are by architects Sumich Chaplin and show an elongated form with extensive glazing and a flat roof structure.
Resource management and landscape planners Vivian + Espire submitted some of the documents for the new house.
Black steel joinery with skylights glazed in light grey tinted glass are planned.
The new house plans are being processed without the public knowing and according to provisions under the Resource Management Act. Paula Costello, an independent commissioner, made that decision for non-notification last Thursday, according to the resource consent documents on the council’s website.
On January 11, the council issued a resource consent decision to allow extensions to an existing farm building at the same address. A hay shed can now be used for residential storage purposes, it was decided then. That farm building is located at the entrance to the property, adjacent to Speargrass Flat Rd, the council documents said.
The proposed new home is to have an 877sq m basement garage and three primary above-ground built modules of a total of 1400sqm.
That gives a total built area of 2277sq m or just under a quarter of a hectare of floor space.
The three above-ground modules are partially set into the topography “such that most of the built form is less than 6m above existing ground level, with the highest point of the dwelling being 6.4m above existing ground level”.
The exterior will be primarily schist rock and blackened steel.
The exterior joinery is to have a similar dark colour to the steel with low-reflective glass throughout.
The rooftop is to be thermoplastic polyolefin, with a ballast roofing of gravel and stones over the porte cochere area.
All up,17,000 cubic metres of earthworks are proposed “both to sink the dwelling into the landform of the site and also to create naturalistic mounding around the dwelling”.
That mounding of the landscape will “create shelter, privacy and visual screening”.
Neighbours worried about visual intrusion at night from the new home’s lights.
So the applicant volunteered that any external lighting has to be directed away from adjacent sites, the application said.
Lawrence Sumich of Sumich Chaplin Architects says: “The house sits near the base of Queenstown’s Coronet Peak in the rolling tussock grasslands, presenting itself from afar as a dark horizontal form hiding itself within the landscape. As you approach along the winding roadway, the building appears to rise and fall before finally revealing a generous, light-filled, entrance way and spiral staircase.”
The project’s main rectangular forms are to rise from the natural terrain and rest on isolated blackened steel-clad pillars which are accompanied longitudinally by stone gabions seeking to enhance the linearity of the house, the architect said.
The oversized pillars embrace and accentuate the immediate topography while continuing the geometry set by the spiral staircase and a strong architectural outline.
The house appears to float over the landscape with distant views of Lake Hayes and the
mountain ranges of The Remarkables, Cecil Peak, and Walter Peak.
The rectangular forms are clad in riveted blackened steel panels and dark steel joinery fitted with low reflective glass. Entry to the garage is concealed within the rolling landforms, and behind the gabion walls to hide it from view, generally holding the client’s car collection as well as outdoor sports equipment storage, the architects said.
Xero shares were today trading on the ASX at around A$144, giving the company a market cap of A$421.36b.
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