The bulk of the new houses constructed
in New Zealand utilise light timber framing as
the supporting structure of the house.
To the framing is fixed weatherboarding,
plaster (in many forms) sheet material, a veneer
of brick, block or stone, glass paneling and many
other linings. The inside can be lined with any
material that will satisfy the health, safety
and durability requirements laid down in the Building
The roofing mediums are equally
as varied with profiled metal, concrete or clay
tiles, sheet material, timber shakes or slates
etc.Houses of this nature are required to be insulated
to provide comfort levels and reduce energy consumption.
We design the majority of houses
using this form of construction, often using innovated
design solutions to extend the capacity of the
timber framing and to provide good design solutions
for our clients.
We highly favour this form of
construction for housing and commercial use because
of the design options available and the distinct
advantages of the system in provision an energy
efficient, temperature regulated environment.
The construction, using the
Thermomass system, consists of a reinforced concrete
inside shell 150mm thick with a 50mm high density
polystyrene layer separating the 65mm outer shell.
The two concrete layers are held together with
proprietary pins. Most of the panels are factory
produced and trucked to the site.
Houses constructed of Thermomass
have a permanence about them and the clear finished
precast concrete surfaces provide a lively backdrop
for modern living.
Many of our houses incorporate
portions of external walls using Thermomass intermixed
with light timber framing and glazing depending
on orientation and design.
We have developed a philosophy
with respect to straw bale construction for housing
that revolves around the sustainability of the
external straw bale walls. Much of this philosophy
stems from work we have undertake with a lecturer
at Victoria University and aims at protecting
the straw bales from attack by moisture where
the possibility of wetting the walls occurs.
The sites where we have been
involved with straw bales construction have generally
been exposed rural locations and the desire to
protect our clients environment (and investment)
has led us to be cautious in our approach. To
achieve a safe structure we have surrounded the
bale walls with a ventilated timber frame. This
ensures that, should any moisture manage to get
to the bale, the moisture will be drawn away by
the air movement and ensures the bales remain
Walls over half a metre thick
with windows and doors set back from the face
provide a feel of strength, stability and dimension
not found in conventional houses. The interior
walls, plastered over the bales have a free flowing
irregularity that enhances the hand build feel
of the housed.
Straw bales provide high values
of insulation and reduces the energy requirements
and running cost of the house.
When the clients requested a
house with a solid feel with low maintenance costs
in to the future we suggested earth block as an
The blocks are made in Hawkes
Bay and were laid by local blocklayers. Each block
is 290mm x 290mm x 190mm and weigh close to 40kg
per block. The walls, some over 4 metres high
are mortared together and are cored to take vertical
reinforcement and service ducting.
We suggest that the structural
timbers be recycled timber to match the rustic
nature of the bricks with macrocarpa rafters and
The end result is one of solidarity and timelessness.