Inspired by the traditional Kiwi bach, a New Zealand beach vacation home, the FirstLight House is the first entry in the Solar Decathlon competition from the southern hemisphere. Designed by a team of architecture students at the Victoria University of Wellington, FirstLight has a strong focus on outdoor living, lots of natural daylight and a big emphasis on using locally sourced New Zealand materials. Construction is complete on the Kiwi Solar Decathlon home and was on display to the public throughout May in Wellington before the team begins packing up to head to DC.
Sponsored by Meridian Energy, the FirstLight House is named so because New Zealand is the first country to start the new day. Characterized by its use of locally sourced wood, daylighting, and a direct connection with the outdoors, Team Kiwi’s Solar Decathlon house is certain to turn some heads come September. Although inspired by traditional New Zealand beach houses used primarily in the summer, this home is meant for year round living and makes use of high performance New Zealand eco wool insulation and locally and sustainably sourced woods. Sliding shutters allow the home to adjust to climatic conditions allowing more shade or sun, and it makes use of thermally zoned areas, which further reduces the overall HVAC loads.
An external canopy over the house provides shade in the summer and support for the home’s solar system, comprised of both Mitsubishi Electric polycrystalline solar panels and solar thermal hot water heating panels. LED lighting, a high efficiency heat pump and energy monitory further help to reduce energy use within the home. Decking around the entire house expands the living space and encourages the inhabitants to spend more time out of doors.
In May, the home was open to visitors for public tours in Frank Kitts Park in Wellington, and now the students will be working on finalizing the home’s details and packing up for the trip to the US, where Team Kiwi will be one of four international teams competing, but the only team from the southern hemisphere. We hope when they arrive in D.C. they remember to orient the home to the south and not the north.
Images courtesy of FirstLight House