Cardrona hut: What no windows? No, you just can't see them

Credit: Original article can be found here

At first glance, this large cabin looks completely windowless – that’s how it appears on three sides.

But all is not as it seems. There is a glazed entry to Cardrona Hut, and light filters in between battens, through tall hidden windows right around the timber-framed building.

And, despite its name, the hut is actually an Abodo timber show home, which has just won two Southern Master Builders awards for Dunlop Builders.

A timber rainscreen shrouds this entire cabin, apart from the glazed entry. But Cardrona hut, built as an Abodo timber show home, has hidden windows where the battens are slightly further apart.

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A timber rainscreen shrouds this entire cabin, apart from the glazed entry. But Cardrona hut, built as an Abodo timber show home, has hidden windows where the battens are slightly further apart.

The hut was designed by Assembly Architects to showcase the Abodo range of thermally modified timber products, including cladding, structure, linings, flooring, fenestration, joinery, furnishing and fence posts.

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And, says Dunlop Builders, it was built to show how a cabin using these products can survive the harsh mountain climate. Its exposed timber interior also showcases the warmth, texture and “heart” of the wood.

The interior of the hut is fully lined with Abodo thermally modified New Zealand pine timber.

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The interior of the hut is fully lined with Abodo thermally modified New Zealand pine timber.

Ironically, the project won a Gold Award and the Southern Master Builders Gib Show Home Award, despite not actually having any Gib: “There’s not a stitch of Gib in there,” says managing director Bryce Dunlop. “There’s a little bit of irony in there though, isn’t there?

“We’re very, very proud of the cabin, because it is a real New Zealand story. I’m not on the tools any more, but I am in awe of the craftsmanship that has gone into it. And also in awe of owner Daniel Gudsell, who had the foresight to bring the Abodo technology in from Europe and put a place like this in Cardrona.”

Abodo thermally modified New Zealand pine features throughout – even the kitchen benchtop and cabinetry is Abodo laminated timbers given a dark stain.

“If you look at the outside you can see some of the battens are spaced out in places,” says Dunlop. “That is where the windows are positioned. When you are inside the cabin, and the sun is coming in at the right angle, the light and shadows and pretty spectacular.”

Dunlop says the building is well insulated: “There is Warm Roof insulation on the outside of the framing – it completely wraps the building. On top of that is a waterproof membrane, and outside that layer is the timber rainscreen. There are no gutters because the rain simply runs off the membrane.”

Assembly Architects says the gable form of the cabin is derived from the Central Otago stone shed, though the traditional appearance has been abstracted.

The kitchen is a simple long Abodo laminated timber benchtop with cabinets to one side.

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The kitchen is a simple long Abodo laminated timber benchtop with cabinets to one side.

The hut boasts an oven and small cooktop.

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The hut boasts an oven and small cooktop.

“Elements that normally communicate building scale are absent. The form is presented as a monolith of rigorously set-out battened timber, floating on a recessed piled foundation. Slight variations in the batten spacings signify windows; a single street-side door is sheltered by a steel arch.”

Daniel Gudsell of Abodo says he brought the technology into New Zealand, because locally grown timbers did not perform satisfactorily in the Central Otago climate.

“Traditionally, locals have scoffed at local timbers and ordered in cedar from Canada and kwila from Indonesia.”

Abodo timbers are used in varying ways to show diversity.

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Abodo timbers are used in varying ways to show diversity.

The hut boasts an office on the ground floor.

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The hut boasts an office on the ground floor.

Gudsell says he chose to build the show home to highlight just how suitable the Abodo thermally modified New Zealand pine was for the area.

“I wanted to use local firms, and Assembly Architects was an early adopter of the Abodo technology,” he says. “Architects Justin and Louise (Wright) got the idea immediately. I was originally going to go with a much larger show home with more bedrooms, and they said, ‘Is that what you really need?’ And they came up with this.

“We wanted the best people we could find working on this, and Dunlop Builders were highly recommended. It was a great opportunity for Bryce to work with the product – he has since become one of our top advocates.”

A mezzanine bedroom sits beneath the sarked ceiling. The entire house is wrapped with Warm Roof insulation, plus a waterproof membrane and timber rainscreen.

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A mezzanine bedroom sits beneath the sarked ceiling. The entire house is wrapped with Warm Roof insulation, plus a waterproof membrane and timber rainscreen.

In announcing the Master Builders awards, the judges noted: “This is a cleverly designed show home. The finished form features complex detailing that required thorough workmanship throughout the innovative and unique construction process.

“The showcase of framing and lining demonstrates its versatility, while attention to detail is visible in the burnished steel entrance shroud, custom bush-hammered concrete terrace and Abodo fencing. Exquisite detailing and materials create a calm and warm ambience in what can be a harsh environment.”