Clubbing at the Hills – Michael Hill’s Clubhouse by Pattersons Architects, New Zealand

Architecture & Interiors

Patterson Associates are arguably New Zealand’s most internationally recognised architects. Andrew Patterson himself has been described as the “virtuosi of New Zealand architecture” by renowned British
photographer, writer and style visionary Herbert Ypma. His firm, Patterson Associates Ltd, is the only New Zealand architectural practice to be published in Phaidon’s 10 x 10 book of the world’s best architects. At the core expression of Pattersons design is the term "appurtuant" – an old Saxon word which means to ‘’belong naturally’’.  And yes, their masterful design for Hill’s Clubhouse in the Wakatipu Basin in New Zealand’s Southern Alps definitely belongs naturally.


"The impression we want is that buildings are formed by the same forces that shaped the land,” say Patterson Associates. The building has real integrity and a richness of tone and texture. Pattersons say ‘’we wanted earth to be earth, wood to be wood and stone to be stone.”  What was the brief for it? “I said a one liner – when players and spectators come here, I want them to go away saying ‘Wow’! Wait till you see the Clubhouse” says the proprietor, Michael Hill. Pattersons interpreted this as Michael wanting ‘’the ultimate Private Box,’’ where guests could feel an intimacy with the game, the environment and their fellow guests. Pattersons wanted something that would leave as much of an impression as the golf itself.


All too often clubhouses are faux historical buildings set ‘’out of bounds’’ with no connection to the land, the idea of what the sport is about or how it integrates with the environment. The architects refer to the design as ‘’the Divot’’ and you can see why. The power of a professionals swing is captured in a 200-tonne cantilevered raking concrete roof supported on just three taut muscular steel struts. The roof is lined in GRC panels with integrated heating and acoustic design and topped it in living Turf. It’s the size of a fairway and rises out of the ground, crisply floating in the alpine air. Underneath, stark white architectural shapes, dimpled like some sort of cubic Callaway balls, are arranged to contain the interior spaces.
Less than a quarter of the Clubhouse protrudes above the grass. The cart store, workshops and service areas are all subterranean. And, in what its architects claim to be a world first, the building is situated within the playing bounds. If a ball lands on the grass roof, the player takes the shot from there. The result is a seamless integration with the landscape but hauntingly contemporary, angular and overwhelmingly sporting in feel, all at the same time.


Inside the Clubhouse is unbelievably luxurious. Two bespoke colour therapy spas are buried deep underground behind walnut panelled changing rooms. A large private gym is flanked by a reflecting pond. Here you can exercise under dancing ripples of sunshine before being pummelled and bathed in violet light by an expert masseuse. Dressing happens under huge 3m square skylights with views of the mountain tops above. The main bar and dining is a gorgeous light filled grandstand overlooking the 18th green. It is surprisingly intimate. An 18 seater contemporary dining table is framed by a huge inglenook fireplace hewn from dimpled textured white aluminium. The bar runs the full length of the space. It’s a long, elegant wedge of walnut surrounded by full sided tooled leather stools.
All rooms are set around an elegant fireside courtyard designed for theatrical and formal events with a secret service tunnel connected behind.


But that’s not all – the building is sustainable as well! By optimising the sites solar potential, maximising energy efficiency and utilising materials with low embodied energy and a long life, the Clubhouse is a sustainable building with low visual and environmental impact. Due to New Zealand’s embryonic Green Star rating system being only for office building use, the Clubhouse cannot be officially green rated. Heating is provided by an embedded under floor and
overhead system that is largely fed by a bio-fuelled boiler. Central to the design is its ‘green roof’ planted with native tussock. In addition to providing low visual impact, the roof design significantly increases the buildings’ insulation and thermal mass to maximise natural climate control.


Builder – RBJ Ltd

Engineers – Tyndall and Hanham Ltd
GRC – Unicast Ltd
Frameless Double Glazing – Thermosash Christchurch
Precast Concrete – Bradfords Precast Ltd
Aluminium Dimple Panels – Metal Concepts Ltd
Joinery – Coronet Woodware Ltd

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