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Striking design underpins passive house

Kim Stewart Nov 11
Striking design underpins passive house
The house features a variety of materials, with Siberian Larch weatherboards, oak framed windows, copper spoutings and stone cladding making for a striking design.

Dunedin builder Bruce Wilson loves the fact that his company’s latest project is a far-from-typical house influenced by low energy design principles.

Its architecture is partly reminiscent of a European chalet which, combined with a variety of materials such as Siberian Larch weatherboards, oak framed windows, copper spoutings and stone cladding makes for a striking design.

“The shape of the house and those materials definitely make it interesting,” Bruce says.

Bruce is the owner of Wilson Builders and says the house’s elevated site overlooking the coast, about 20 kilometres south of Dunedin also adds to the stunning build.

The house’s main section rises to three levels, conjoined by a well-glazed ground-floor wing with living, kitchen and conservatory areas.

The 135sqm ground floor of the main section comprises two bedrooms, a library, laundry and bathroom. The second floor is entirely dedicated to the master bedroom, ensuite and walk-in ward-robes which cover 48sqm, while the third story features a 28sqm loft.

There is a strong emphasis on high performance in terms of energy efficiency.

“The wall design is a lot more detailed than under the standard building code.”

Specifications include Pro Clima Intello Plus wrap around the building envelope for a high performance vapour barrier and air-tightness membrane, as well as protecting the the building from moisture intrusion.

This is partnered with a Zehnder mechanical heat-recovery ventilation system.

The large areas of glazing feature argon gas-filled low emissivity glass which reflects more light and heat during summer, but reduces interior heat loss over winter, while wall and ceiling insulation is well over-specified against the New Zealand building code.

In order to achieve maximum insulation in the walls, services run through a separate cavity created by battening over the main wall section, effectively providing 190mm thickness of insulation.

Structurally, the combination of three stories, an extra-high wind zone and extensive glazing required considerable use of structural plywood to meet bracing values.

In keeping with the influence of low energy design principles, the house will be fully off-grid and represents an aspect of building that has become a passion for Bruce.

“I’ve got a real interest in passive houses and in building better; it’s a founding principle for the business.”

The project was referred to him through the web-site of the Passive House Institute of New Zealand, of which he is a member; the house’s owner is also a trade member of the institute.

Bruce is aiming for his business to gain more work in this area.

“This year has been a big shift for us into that kind of market.”

He has completed Certified Passive House Tradesperson training and is the only builder in Dunedin to have completed this, he says.

“It was a week long course, both theory and practical and an examination which is assessed by the International Passive House Association in Germany.”

Wilson Builders was established by Bruce and his wife Katelin.

“We feel a responsibility to consider and minimise our impact on the environment. For this reason we have a passion to build and renovate homes that are healthier for the occupants, require less energy to run and give consideration to the lifespan, sourcing and wastage of materials.”

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