Within the wild and magical landscape of New Zealand lies a wellness retreat that is good for you and gaia too. A bespoke building collaboration between founders Chris Madison and Damian Chaparro and Wellington-based architects Tennent & Brown, has produced a near-hidden gem of modern sustainability and self-efficiency that mirrors Aro Hā's mission to rejuvenate mind, body, and spirit by fostering the connection between guests and nature.
Overlooking Lake Wakatipu, on the South Island of New Zealand, the local timber structures of Aro Hā were designed to blend into the landscape by not breaking the skyline or disrupting the spectacular views the inhabitants of the neighboring resort of Queenstown enjoy. The natural coloring of the wood blends with the backdrop of the Southern Alps, and stone paths and walkways mimic their rocky outcroppings.
Ten separate buildings comprise the retreat, each low and angular with large square entrances and slender rectangular windows. The sloping roofs and rhythmic placement mirror the surrounding mountain range and smaller islands within the lake, allowing the decidedly modern architecture to blend nearly seamlessly with the breathtakingly massive landscape.
Aro Hā was designed with sustainability and self-sufficiency as foremost concerns, as Madison and Chaparro desired "structure and landscaping that provided a teaching point" for holistic wellness. Most food is grown on-site in permaculture gardens and stored in underground cellars refrigerated by the ambient temperature of the earth. A state of the art infrastructure system turns both sunlight and water into all of the retreat's energy, and Passive Haus building techniques ensure that very little energy is needed at all.
The vision of Aro Hā is Zen inspired luxury, where the luxury comes from the connection between nature, wellness, and the fostering of humanity's need for a regenerative existence, rather than opulence or excess. Through intelligent design, respect for the environment, and the blending of holistic traditions and modern technology, that luxury has been achieved.