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Residential House, Wellington

02 Sep 2009

Concrete products are used extensively in this new house, located in an established city-fringe neighbourhood, among mainly weather-board houses. The layout optimises its northern orientation with polished concrete floors on north and west as heat sinks. The north-facing, double-height glazed entry gallery acts as a conservatory/trombe wall.

The incorporation of passive solar design principles is key to achieving a reduction in the home’s energy requirements. The mass of heavy building materials, in this case exposed concrete and concrete masonry, is utilised in conjunction with the sun’s changing elevation angle during the year to sustainable effect.

The exposed and well-insulated concrete elements in the house absorb, store and later radiate the sun’s heat, off-setting temperature troughs and peaks, to create a moderate living environment.

The concrete’s thermal mass is optimised by being used in conjunction with appropriate thermal insulation, window placement for good solar gains and natural ventilation as part of an integrated and sustainable passive solar design.

The exposed, untreated concrete bridge soffit has carefully-placed construction joints which are punctuated by recessed low energy LED lights. The pine plywood stair slides up within the stack-bonded Napier block work stair. Bathrooms have concrete accessible shower floors laid to fall, with one containing semi-precious stones that sparkle under the CFL down lights.

The house’s exterior is a balanced mix of conventional NZ pine weatherboard and corrugated steel cladding alongside the double-glazed, thermally broken windows and glazed areas.

Also integrated into the house are a host other sustainable building and in-use features such as greywater and rainwater harvesting, recycled glass fibre insulation and re-used timber trims and floors, along with sustainably-grown cork floors, Fijian Kauri doors and European beech acoustic ceilings.

This house demonstrates an elegant, joyful, lasting, low-energy solution for everyday family life to friends and visitors.

Deborah Cranko of Cranko Architects accepts the Excellence in Residential Concrete Construction Awrad from CCANZ CEO Rob Gaimster