A literal hidden gem in the middle of gorgeous untamed nowhere, multi-award-winning build The Lindis defies conventional design ideas and instead takes its cues directly, organically – yet ultimately really quite dramatically – from nature.
Words Josie Steenhart
If you zoomed in from space on Ahuriri Valley, all you might see is wind-teased golden tussock, wild green grass, smooth grey stones, sapphire-blue braided rivers and the odd scattering of woolly sheep. But wait – a flash of light bouncing off a sharp-edged, mirrored glass box. And then another. And another.
Aliens might be puzzled, awestruck even, and humans not in the know equally so. But set on 49,000ha of conservation land and occupying 6000 acres on Ben Avon Station sits The Lindis, a luxury lodge first opened in 2018 and designed by Christopher Kelly, founder and principal of Architecture Workshop.
Featuring two master suites, three lodge suites and a multitude of living, relaxing and dining areas within the original majestic wooden lodge buildings (designed to beautifully match and therefore disappear into the undulating tussock-hued landscape), The Lindis recently added a handful of deeply glamorous yet somehow still highly functional accommodation pods dotted (within a civilised distance) across the plains – and it was these that caught our eye for this month’s cover.
Keen to learn more (to share with extraterrestrial and Earth-residing readers alike), we caught up with The Lindis Group’s managing director William Hudson.
What was the design brief for the original lodge buildings?
The brief was for the lodge to fit harmoniously into the landscape and blend seamlessly into the environment by creating a sense of harmony between structure and land. The roofline mimics the undulations of the surrounding landscape.
Starting with an elegant wooden slatted roof paying direct homage to the contours of the earth below, the design of the building creates an undeniable sense of harmony between structure and land, a harmony that has diffused itself through everything we do at The Lindis – from the interior design to the ingredients used in our kitchen.
And then the pods were added later? Tell us a bit about them…
We border a dark sky reserve, with some of the darkest skies in the world. The idea started around creating an experience centred around the stars, not just a stand-alone accommodation offering.
Where the lodge emulates the landscape, the pods mirror the landscape with each design respecting and paying direct homage to the Ahuriri Valley.
The pods at The Lindis offer our guests a truly unique accommodation experience. Nestled gently into the landscape – out of sight but only a stone’s throw from the main lodge, these compact structures bring the environment well and truly into the fore while offering the ultimate in privacy and escape.
Meticulously designed with double-glazed mirrored glass walls on three sides, and a gloriously efficient 18m² footprint, these luxuriously heated and totally private pods allow our guests to experience our
ever-changing environment in its most nuanced forms.
Tell us about some of the materials used…
The interior of the building, in turn, exists in unity with the natural environment. Beautiful spotted gum wooden panelling and imposing bluestone masonry are used throughout, reflecting the tones and geography of the outside environment – with sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows blurring the barriers between the inside and outside worlds.
Bluestone and spotted gum timber are the main mediums used, presented in different ways. The bluestone, for example, features as polished floor tiles through to 75kg interior wall blocks.
These materials were chosen because of their natural forms and versatility.
Sustainable design practices were an important factor, what are some of the ways you utilised this?
Power and heat generation through geothermal heating fields and solar generated on site (particularly for heating water).
What were some of the challenges of building in a location like this?
The biggest challenges were remoteness and weather. Part-way through the build we had a significant weather event where the ground was frozen solid for months at a time. Severe winds and extreme temperatures (highs and lows) also come with many challenges.
Tell us a little about the interior design…
Everything draws inspiration from and shows respect to the land we inhabit. Interiors were designed internally, to cradle the natural environment, not taking away from the outside view, natural finishes and of course comfort.
What are some favourite interior elements/details/furnishings?
We feature both international and domestic artists. One of the favourite pieces is from local artist Shane Woolridge – his waterdrop sculpture that sits in our Grand Hall.
We also have a double glass-walled fireplace in the bar area, where you can take cosy comfort via the warm flames while enjoying a drink – while still being able to see the view (through the fireplace).
What are some of the design/architecture awards The Lindis has picked up?
NZ Timber Design Award, Engineering Innovation, 2020. NZIOB (New Zealand Institute of Building) Excellence Award, 2019. NZIA National Architecture Award, Hospitality Category, 2019. NZIA Southern Architecture Award, Hospitality Category, 2019. World Architecture Festival Awards, Amsterdam, Worldwide Winner: Hotel and Leisure, 2019.
We were also recently named in the Robb Report’s Top 50 Luxury Hotels of the World.