The Hills Lodge

The Hills Lodge is a standalone media room where you can enjoy the latest cinematic masterpiece in perfect darkness. Alternatively, the custom made speakers can fill the air with music as you open the facade up for serene views of Lake Hayes and the Southern Alps, relax and get lost in daydreams. 


Sir Michael Hill


Crosson Clarke Carnachan Chin Architects


RBJ Ltd Builders


Lodge at the Hills, Arrowtown

Sylvia Park Tower - Location


The entire media room was to be clad in motorised louvres. When fully closed, they would conceal the structure whilst plunging the occupants into total darkness. Reversing the process, entire sections of the louvres walls were to hinge away in order to fully open and reveal the structure. The open setting would present occupants with unencumbered views of Lake Hayes and the stunning local landscape. 

There was also a requirement for 4 panels of operable roof and 7 panels of operable louvres to be designed and fitted to the lodge. 

The Hills Lodge Final-1



The system had to be simple to operate whilst hiding the complexity away from plain sight. Motorised louvres had to be synchronised, the opening and closing of them becoming a performance, that little bit of showmanship to be watched and admired. 

Every wall required assembly and testing at Insol and transporting each piece to the site was to be a unique logistical challenge. There were just a few centimetres of space left (height & width) along parts of the route, along with any complications from vibrations or unexpected bumps. 


We designed and engineered the entire structure, utilising a hydraulic power pack to operate the hinges section of the wall. Each wall measured 9mx4.5m and used the aurora rear pivot louvre system. In total, 10 electrical actuators and 8 hydraulic rams were used. 

Once assembled and tested to satisfaction, the walls were carefully lifted by crane onto a truck for the journey from Invercargill to Arrowtown. The process was reversed when on site, each wall being carefully maneuvered into place by crane.


Fully integrated with the lodge building management system, the whole facade transforms via touch screen control. This metamorphosis compelling to watch and offers occupants a number or easily controlled variations to suit their mood. From music which can escape and float away into the alpine air, to total darkness for motion picture immersion, it is a perfect place for relaxation and enjoyment.  


The brief required large vertical sunshade fins to the east and west elevations, and vertical louvres over the projecting corner window ‘pods’. The purpose of the fins and louvres was not only to provide sun shading, but also to prevent reflection off the windows and remove the possibility of sun-strike for the vehicles on the nearby motorway. Insol were engaged on a design build basis to meet the Architectural intent.


  • The architectural intent was very specific as the form of the large fins and the ‘picture framed’ look of the vertical louvres.

  • The façade panels had to be designed in a way that any of them could be removed without influencing others.

  • To adhere to budget limitations, the façade needed to be installed without full scaffolding.
  • The large fins had originally been designed as concrete. This had been changed to aluminium  to reduce the dead loads and seismic loads on the building structure. The challenge was to design an aluminium fin with the same form that would be robust enough to meet the demanding wind loads.


After in depth evaluation and modelling of the wind loads, and a lot of consideration of installation methodology, we came up with a design for the fins that met the architectural intent, was economic, buildable, and had a simple installation methodology.

The design involved five new extrusion dies and a new hidden fixing system to mechanically attach the aluminium skins to the sub-frame.

Hook rails were bolted into cast-in threaded inserts in the concrete wall panels. Each fin was then craned into place and hooked to the wall using a combination of lifting eyes and suction cups to keep the fin hanging vertical. Finally the fins were bolted to the hook rails to prevent any movement.


We developed a cost-effective bespoke solution that delivered the functions and architectural intent, all within the constraints of the design-build model and existing budget.

The result is a visually striking architecture that helps shape the journey down to South Auckland.