This cost-effective and environmentally responsible new home is placed between native bush and the Kaipara Harbour on the Pahi Peninsula. The two-bedroom house has a highly efficient plan, which takes into account standard sheet sizes and construction techniques to minimize waste and construction cost, while maximizing usable area and passive solar heating. The design utilizes environmentally friendly materials and systems such a worm farm septic scheme and rainwater collection to reduce its impact on the landscape. The completed project is testament to what can be achieved on a tight budget without sacrificing quality or environmental ethics.
What are the sustainability features?
The house is largely off-grid, so from the outset the architects needed to consider how to collect water for use in the house, as well as how waste was going to be treated on the site. Four very large tanks are buried beneath the house with particulate and UV filters ensuring the quality of the drinking supplied to the house. There is also a worm farm septic system which is clean, odorless and very efficient.
Who are the clients and what's interesting about them?
The client is a quiet and thoughtful entrepreneur who runs a fully organic, fair trade certified, coffee business. He's committed to doing things in a carefully considered and humble way. This came through in this project where he presented an alternative vision for how he could deal with the cost of owning a home in New Zealand's largest city, Auckland. His idea was to find a site two hours drive away in a landscape that was wild on the Kaipara Harbour. He would base himself here and make the trip into Auckland less frequently, running his business remotely for much of the week. The site he found was perched on a ridge above its own private beach, with a vast woodland area behind the house site. Even though it was so beautiful, its location, just that little bit further out of the city meant it was very economical to purchase, leaving enough to design and build a simple but clever home which reflected his own personality.
What was the brief?
The brief was to design an extremely cost effective house that produced minimal waste in its construction and incorporated innovative off-grid technology, while still responding specifically to the site and reflecting the client's personality. The house needed to be built on a budget that was one third the median house price in the region.
Key products used:
Abodo Vulcan thermally modified sustainably grown radiata pine cladding. Gib Plasterboard. Aluminium Roofing from Dimond. APL joinery and Strandboard Flooring.
What building methods were used?
The key to completing the project within the very tight budget was the way the design utilized standard construction modules and added its own spin on those standard techniques to create something a little different. For instance, the design was based on a ruthless adherence to an overall structural grid. This meant that the structural members were all standard sizes, easily accessible and easily handled on site without any costly cranes. There was less wastage on site as a result of this method of construction too, as the underlying grid used to size the house was based on standard timber and plasterboard sizes.
In each step of the design we looked to see how we could take a standard construction technique or material and elevate it somehow.