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Te Toka - Queenstown, New Zealand

Project details

Rafe Maclean
Vulcan Cladding
Photography credit
Simon Devitt
Te Toka Vulcan Screening Abodo Wood
With Abodo Vulcan timber screening, Te Toka is designed to both merge with and withstand the rigours of an alpine environment.

Designed to withstand the elements including all manner of natural disaster, Te Toka in Queenstown provides a safe and resilient bolthole for its overseas owner. With Abodo Vulcan timber screening in Sioo:x finish, the house maintains an understated aesthetic that contributes to its desired longevity.

While it is colloquially known as The Bunker, this Jack’s Point house is officially named Te Toka, which is Maori for The Rock, due to the rocky nature of its 820m2 site.

Large amounts of schist had to be excavated in order to create the building platform for the house, and much of that rock was then used to pave the access road and as a material for many of the walls.

Designed by Wanaka architect Rafe Maclean and project managed and built by Queenstown-based DCD, Te Toka is a triumph in thermally efficient, resilient and self-sufficient design.

The American owner wanted a place for his family to retreat to if disaster struck, so the house needed to go beyond seismic regulations, maintain a comfortable temperature in all weathers, and be sufficient in itself for up to three months.

A large solar array, diesel generator and water tanks help to deliver this, while the material choices and aesthetics of the home assist in maintaining its longevity for future generations.

To achieve this, Dennis Dowling of DCD suggested to the client a range of low maintenance and resilient materials, such as Abodo Vulcan Screening in Sioo:x, which, along with the local schist, is used for large sections of the exterior cladding and screens.

Te Toka Vulcan Screening Abodo Wood 1

The natural Sioo:x timber finish ages gracefully with exposure to the elements, providing a low-profile and understated silvered look that requires only very minimal refinishing.

“We have this incredibly stable product that can take the weathering and the beating it will get from the sun and the horrific winds that will rip through it and will look great in ten years’ time,” says Dennis.

Also, because it is a locally made product using New Zealand grown FSC® Certified timber, Abodo is carbon negative, which helps to negate the impact of other elements of this thermally efficient build, such as the triple-glazed windows imported from Germany.

“The great thing about the Abodo product is I know it hasn't spent most of its life being transported. That’s one of the things that has always frustrated me about cedar,” says Dennis.

The thermal efficiency of the home is second-to-none, with insulated concrete form walls and Vulcan screens that can be pulled across to minimise overheating, or allow the sun in during winter. Sliding doors pull back to reveal an interrupted view from the corners of the living spaces. The interiors are designed to be minimal to let the incredible view take precedence.

“The owner wanted the interiors to be clean and crisp. It took a lot of planning to get right,” says Dennis.

Te Toka has been awarded a host of accolades, including Master Builders Southern Supreme Award and the House of the Year Award in 2021. With a timeless design and an incredibly robust structure, this is a house as solid as the rock it is built on.

We spoke to Dennis about construction, low energy buildings and the construction of a world class “bolthole” - listen to the podcast here.

Te Toka Vulcan Screening Abodo Wood 4
Te Toka Vulcan Screening Abodo Wood 3
Te Toka Vulcan Screening Abodo Wood 2


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