Made From Sunlight, Air, Landscape, and View

Ruakaka House in Northland, New Zealand, is situated overlooking Bream Bay and Whangarei Heads, and is designed as a vernacular inspired home incorporating traditional New Zealand materials, and a site specific environmental design approach.

Design is often about an amalgamation of different ideas, identifying unique environmental aspects of a site, sunlight, air, landscape, view, sustainability considerations, client ideas and expectations, budget realities, local council requirements, your own expectations, and then somewhere amongst this, arrives an actual house design. It’s challenging, testing at times, highly creative, and ultimately fulfilling.

Ruakaka House is 124m² and utilises sunlight for passive heating, natural airflow for passive cooling, high levels of insulation for energy efficiency, New Zealand grown Pinus Radiata board and batten timber cladding, 140mm thick Pinus Radiata timber stud construction, New Zealand Plywood for ceilings kitchen, cabinets, and study, has a natural rain water harvesting capacity of 50,000 Litres captured from the roof, separates black and grey water, uses grey water for onsite irrigation, and a natural wormarator waste composting system for onsite sewage treatment.

Maintaining the existing landscape was always a high priority. The house is designed to rest on top of a hill, floating just above the landscape, peering out over the view. This was achieved by positioning the house to stretch itself out along the natural topography, minimising earthworks, maintaining cost control, and reducing visual dominance.

A long and narrow shaped design running North to South, the mono pitch clerestory roof has four large clerestory windows designed to optimise the house for afternoon winter sunlight, while passively warming the interior and dark tiled floor. 1.6m wide by 2.2m high slider doors face towards to the main views, opening the house up for air flow, landscape, and view. The central corridor, has large open vents above doors for optimised passive airflow and cooling during summer.

The completed house would be an amalgamation of opportunities we discovered through the design process, which would boil down to a smart mono pitch clerestory roof design, optimising summer passive ventilation, optimised winter afternoon sunlight, landscape, and view.

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