Pearson Bach is located in the alpine village of St Arnaud. Being the gateway to the Nelson Lakes area, it is a place of compelling natural beauty comprising mountains, lakes and beech forest. The site is elevated and steep, with a north-south orientation. To the south are expansive views over Lake Rotoiti and the mountains, and to the north, kanuka and manuka trees.
The steep cut at the front of the site presented a challenge for establishing access up to the bach. The boatshed is located at the base of the site with landscaped steps, boulders and tussock forming the ascent to the house. The design comprises a central sun court nestled between a bedroom wing at the rear and a living/master bedroom wing at the front. The two wings are connected by a gallery space, with a view into the courtyard and rugged landscape beyond. These separate wings with their mono-pitched roof forms echo the gradient of the site.
A striking orthogonal front elevation of pre-weathered steel provides a visual contrast to the dark stained board and batten cladding used elsewhere. Inside, the material palette is light and warm – natural cedar, cork flooring and natural timber veneer joinery. A feature raked cedar ceiling in the snug and master bedroom creates a sense of intimacy and frames the view, while a high-level cedar volume over the kitchen directs the gaze upwards.
Pearson Bach is a thoughtful response to the climate, site and clients. The layering of textures, spaces and views has resulted in a successful outcome that the clients enjoy in all seasons. The bach has a sculptural quality and a strong architectural presence which references the sloping mountains and distinct landscape of St Arnaud. It was a National Winner in the Master Builder House of the Year Awards.