Ophir House by C Nott Architects

Distinctive Designs

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Ophir House

This relaxed, unfussy house sits comfortably in the high alpine desert of Otago, blending seamlessly into the surrounding landscape. It quietly emerges from the grasses to give its occupants a vantage point over the sprawling landscape below. Winners of the 2023 Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects National Awards, the design carefully considers the site’s unique characteristics, allowing the house to settle into the terrain as if it had always been there.


Connection to the Earth

A range of tough, durable, and tactile materials, including rammed earth walls and a polished earth floor, have been thoughtfully selected and crafted throughout. These choices create a strong connection to the earth and enhance the sense of being one with nature. The use of natural, locally sourced materials also supports sustainability and minimises the home’s environmental impact.

The formal arrangement of the living spaces gives height and generosity to the interior while still maintaining a sense of warmth and intimacy. The ceiling soars in the main living area, creating a grand yet inviting atmosphere. Meanwhile, the sleeping spaces are designed with low, cosy comfort in mind, offering a peaceful retreat from the openness of the living areas.


The Secondary Building and Exterior Courtyard

The secondary building, containing guest accommodation and a workspace, plays an important role in defining the outdoor living spaces. It functions as a natural boundary and defines an exterior courtyard, which serves as an extension of the home’s interior. This courtyard invites in natural light and ventilation, allowing the relatively modest floor plate of the internal spaces to feel more expansive. Through thoughtful design, the home maximises the connection between indoor and outdoor living, creating a sense of seamless integration with the surrounding landscape.











Source: Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects National Awards

By: Jamie Quinn

Photos Provided by: Simon Devitt

Designer: C Nott Architects