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New Zealand’s First Light Solar Decathlon House Puts an Innovative Twist on the Basics
Several unique features set the house apart from the rest. Inspired by the traditional New Zealand holiday home, the “Kiwi bach”, socializing and a relationship with nature were of prime importance in the design process. The front and back bi-folding doors allow for plenty of natural light to enter. An overhanging roof provides ample shade on hot days while also adding protection when the doors are open, creating a seamless unification of the interior and exterior environments.
Between the front and back doors, the nucleus of the house revolves around an elegant concrete tabletop surrounded by stools and a small kitchen space. The kitchen area opens up to a shared living room with a convertible sofa bed on one side and a private area on the other which are divided by a self-contained study unit. The design keeps the house very open while also providing an option for refuge and intimate space.
For the initial stages of the project, only four students were involved. However, over two years, 26 students were primarily involved with many more contributing to specific attributes of the final product. Rather than sourcing from Ikea, Team New Zealand chose to do things from scratch. All of the house’s furnishings were custom designed by students from various departments at Victoria University. For instance, a light that sits over the kitchen table was inspired by traditional Maori patterns and was created by an industrial design student. The beds, tables, chairs, outdoor benches and landscaping all boast student designs as well.
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