Just 15 minutes from New Zealand’s capital is an environmentally conscious house that enjoys the best of city and country living. Designed by Wellington-based architectural firm Parsonson Architects, the hybrid city-country house — dubbed the Ostrich House — feels like a rural escape from the city with its hilltop location boasting panoramic views and its indoor-outdoor design approach. To minimize energy use and future-proof the home, the architects followed passive solar principles and outfitted the home with low-maintenance materials as well as a rainwater collection system.
Spanning an area of 2,368 square feet, the Ostrich House takes inspiration from its rugged, hilltop location. Wrapped around a sheltered courtyard, the dwelling is topped with an angled roofline that not only references the surrounding topography, but also provides protection from the prevailing hot and dry Nor-Westerlies. The house is also backed up to a hill for protection from the cold southern winds. Long roof eaves provide added protection from the elements.
The interior of the house also pays homage to the outdoors. Massive windows and floor-to-ceiling glazing bring the outdoors in at every angle. Okoume plywood lines the sculptural ceiling and matches the predominately timber palette used in the minimalist interior. Cedar, which is used as cladding for the exterior, is repeated as interior wall linings to further the indoor-outdoor connection.
The timber floors and cedar cladding have been oiled — zinc was also added to the exterior — to ensure durability for the low-maintenance building envelope. Following passive solar principles, the home is positioned for optimal passive solar gain in winter, while sections of exposed concrete floor and internal block walls help retain that heat. In summer, slatted sunscreens and generous eaves mitigate unwanted heat gain. The double-glazed, low-E windows with thermally broken frames and a heat recovery ventilation system also help keep temperature fluctuations in check. In addition to a rainwater collection system, the house is equipped with an on-site septic system that uses Tiger Worms to reduce solids by approximately 95 percent.
Photography by Paul McCredie via Parsonson Architects