House of the week: Pataua

JILL WILD
Last updated 05:00 06/02/2013
house
DIANE STOPPARD
LIGHT & AIRY: Natural ventilation has been used in the hallway along the west face of the house, preventing the bedrooms from overheating in the late afternoon sun.

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When architect Felicity Christian designed her own home, she seized the opportunity to express all that was closest to her heart - both in architectural and environmental terms.

Her brief to herself was for 'an environmentally friendly build that maximises natural energy gain to create comfortable all-year-round living for her husband Mike Farrow, her children and herself'. She also wanted something with a 'personal workspace'.

And she delivered, it's a home that 14 years on is still very comfortable for the whole family. 

"The spaces aren't huge, but every room has good connection to the outside," says Felicity, "and at any one time we can have 10 or 12 comfortably staying in the house."

The house is in distinct parts - for living, sleeping and working - and the positioning of the build capitalises on Whangarei's sunshine hours, incorporating passive solar principles into the design.

Felicity's husband Mike is a landscape architect, and has flown over the area and driven down virtually every road, so was able to carefully select the section for sun, privacy and its setting. "The living area runs from east-west, with the long axis oriented north for effective thermal gain onto the carefully placed mass walls and floor," says Felicity."With overhangs and window placement designed to allow winter sun in and keep summer sun out, the house is very warm in winter and cool in summer, plus an open fire allows for winter ambience during long periods of cloudy weather."

Bedrooms face east to bring in morning sun and views, and the naturally ventilated hall along the west length prevents bedrooms from overheating in the late afternoon. The work studio over the garage has picture windows on three sides for views.

"When we built we did the normal Kiwi thing and lived in the studio over the garage to start while the house was being built. And then for the next decade it was my working studio, and I've only recently moved my architectural practise into town." 

An important aspect of the design was to make the house as 'eco-friendly' and non-toxic as possible. Macrocarpa was sourced locally for the exposed beams, rafters, framing and ceiling sarking. Locally grown Eucalyptus saligna, used for the bedroom floors, was sealed with organic oil and topped with an organic gloss sealer. All the cabinetry was constructed from locally grown macrocarpa and pinus radiata, resulting in a house that Felicity says is 'free from 'glue rich' composite materials.

'"We were pretty steadfast about wanting the house to be as organic as possible, we didn't want any MDF," she adds. So the exterior cladding is a combination of cedar weatherboards, plastered block and horizontal profiled metal cladding, and by using carefully selected colours, the natural weathering of the cedar the exterior has blended into its surrounds.   

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THE DETAILS

Size: House, 180 sq.m; garage and studio, 94 sq.m

Build Cost: $400,000

Materials: Cedar weatherboards, plastered concrete block, long-run Colorsteel

Architect: Felicity Christian, Two Architects, Whangarei

Energy efficiency: Passive solar design in living spaces. Wood fire, high level louvers for summer ventilation.

Done Right: Relationship with surrounding environment - views, sun and wind protection.

Done Wrong: Linen cupboard too small.

Unexpected: Fantastic view of the moonrise, and an appreciation of the seasonal changes seen in the sun's path.

Recommended: Passive solar design elements for comfortable living and a house that breathes.

- © Fairfax NZ News

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