Hanging off a cliff overlooking Lake Wakatipu in Queenstown, Jagged Edge takes in the view.
Here’s a winding road, a gate, a loop around the edge of the hill, until – finally – you pop over a lip, and the house is right there in front of you – an angled glass dart, hanging off the cliff. The impact after anticipation is a gleeful jolt with this dramatic house. Jagged Edge perches on a southern slope in Queenstown, overlooking Lake Wakatipu. Its bold form is not unlike a rooster puffing its chest out in glorious pride.
The immense scale of the place leads you to make comparisons. There are so few traditional cues that this is a house, you find yourself likening it to a glass prow of a ship, the nose of an aeroplane, some luxurious lair in a Bond movie. In some ways, as a residential property it is quite modest – no sprawling wings of bedrooms here, just a relatively traditional three. But, of course, in many other ways, this place is all about indulgence. There couldn’t be too many other living rooms with a view like this. Here we are in the land of giants – soaring 8 m high ceilings lilting ever upwards towards the sky. From afar, people seem dwarfed here – Lilliputians against this huge object. And yet, perhaps the environment demands this scale; The Remarkables to the east need big windows to squeeze inside a frame.
Inside this crystal triangle, the house folds symetrically from the centre of the glass point. Perhaps not to compete with the view, the interiors have been kept minimal. Pale timber floors and white walls predominate. A glossy white kitchen slots relatively demurely into the back wall, though there are exceptions to the white interior, including a custom armchair and ottoman and red lacquered shelves. Colour is also introduced in other, more unique ways. A stack of glass panels lit from within to form a sculpture curled inside the stairwell. Push a button, and a section of the floor elevates, becoming a bar, lit by adjustable coloured lights.
The engineering of the house is most fascinating. This angled glass building suspends off the cliff behind, with bars that anchor back into the rock. The glass tilts out towards the apex, tension bars running parrallel with the panes, meaning most of the house fits into this glass triangle. It feels then that you are on an open platform – part of the mountain scene.
In contrast, the wine cellar is excavated into the cliff, tunneled out of the rock – a welcome contrast of rough and natural with the light and slick of the living area. Both here, and at the entry where the rectilinear house meets the natural rock face, you most strongly experience a moment of poetic contrast.
Heading back into the light, upstairs the main bedroom has, arguably, an even more spectacular outlook than the living room. From the bed you look directly out at the panorama of The Remarkables. A wall separating the bedroom from the living space below retreats at the touch of a button, and then you also have the full view to the west towards Glenorchy.
This is one of those places that is spectacular because it takes an idea and runs with it. There is no sense of compromise here – the house is likely to be a divider of opinions, gossiped about, admired, even hated, but walking into this angled glass jewel, you also glimpse the giddy power, the gasp-inducing glee that architecture and engineering can at times create. This is a crazy house. But in the same way that the world would be a terribly dull place if eccentrics didn’t exist, the world would be worse off for not having wonderfully madcap buildings such as this.