Curves in Invercargill

It was to be a project without limits. Very early on, architectural designer Nathan Shearing knew his biggest challenge would be not “taming” his clients’ bold wishes of their vision for a new home.

From the get-go, owners Andrew and Linda Gunn wanted something different and produced an original sketch resembling a squashed octopus – a plan full of never-ending curves in both form and elevation for Nathan to capture - with little deviation from the sketch.

The Gunns wanted a low-risk home using conventional materials comprising locally sourced timber framing with brick cladding and James Hardie Linea.

Situated on a prominent rural site, sloping towards the Waihopai River, to the east of Invercargill, the design of the Gunn’s home was in constant consideration of needing shelter from prevailing winds but capturing magnificent views while also giving privacy from its location on the corner of Findlay Road and Mill Road North.
From the outset, Nathan found the brief refreshing with the clients having very defined ideas on how the house would function with a large central living space for extended family gatherings with separate wings for more formal living plus separate, north-facing accommodation wings. Inclusion of spaces for a home office and hobbies is provided in a separate annex to the house.

At just over 34m from east to west, the length of the home was to become a factor for the selection of material for the main draped roof, Dimond Roofing
in Christchurch provided technical assistance in support of the selection of Colorcote .55 ZR8 Hi Five corrugate material in Sandstone Grey, along with 125mm Hi Line Spouting.

Although the form is radical the client’s brief had a requirement for conservative treatment of both internal and external moisture management and the central tapered section of the home works perfectly to eliminate the requirement for internal gutters.

The material was run at Dimond Roofing’s Christchurch factory and the 34m sheets transported to site arriving at 6am the following day. 

A scaffold ramp was erected from the truck onto and across the roof to allow the sheets to be unloaded and “walked” over the roof into position by a team of 16 people. The sheets are directly fixed to the central section over the apex of the roof and then slotted to allow expansion at the ends. There are no penetrations in the roof. Framing comprises parallel chord trusses allowing air flow to the roof space with vents included in the soffits to allow cross ventilation in the roof space. Keith Ivey and Tony Frew of CS Roofing (Southland) Ltd supervised the roof installation.

Praise must go to the brick layer Peter King whose artistry involved changing shapes and cuts required by the complex curves of the design along with having the monumental task of all the raking cuts to the soffits.

The owners’ octopus plan has transformed into a stunning rural home that sits well on the rolling Southland landscape while observing the “curves” so important to owners Linda and Andrew Gunn.

The Fat Hippo Design Group
Established over ten years ago, partners Martin Gvardijancic and Nathan Shearing first met in South Africa but are now based in Invercargill, Kerikeri and Queenstown providing professional, cost effective solutions for clients’ design requirements. 
Nathan grew up in Southland and trained in engineering and architecture before moving to Auckland to indulge his passions of design and sailing. This expanded to working in Asia, followed by a four- year trip around the world, mainly based out of Ireland. Nathan returned to New Zealand in 2001 and worked in a multi-discpline office before establishing The Fat Hippo Design Group with Martin who studied architecture in Slovenia and operated there for a time before discovering the distinctive styles of Central Otago while living in Queenstown. Martin is now based with his family in Kerikeri

Architectural Designer: 
Fat Hippo Design Group
Telephone: 027 213 1158
Main Contractor: 
Tomlins Building Ltd
Roofing/Cladding Manufacturer: 
Dimond Roofing
Material: ColorCote® .55 ZR8 Hi Five
Colour: Sandstone Grey
CS Roofing (Southland) Ltd