Pahi Home by Margriet Geesink & Francis Stevens

Pahi home, a small affordable, comfortable, sustainable, contemporary home with a less is more design attitude.

We, Margriet Geesink & Francis Stevens, emigrated in December 2015 from the Netherlands to New Zealand with our son and daughter. We currently live in Whangarei. Our dream is to build a small and affordable sustainable home on our section in Pahi on the Kaipara Harbour.

We selected Duncan Firth from the architectural practice Solarei Limited to design our home since he has a lot of experience in passive solar and design for passive ventilation.

Our section is on a very steep hill with beautiful Western views and sunsets over the Kaipara Harbour and distant hills.

Our design brief was “A small affordable, comfortable, sustainable, contemporary home with a less is more design attitude built with quality materials that inspire a sense of place and change in building methodologies, a lot of natural light, unobstructed broad views and a great outdoor area.” To keep the footprint as low as possible we aim to build our home as small as possible without loosing the function of 2-3 bedrooms to sleep our family and guest and a place to work from home with a view.

Besides the brief we have detailed in a document 10 sustainability goals. These can be found on our website where we blog every weeek about the steps, compromises and choices we make during the process of designing and building our home.

One of the challenges is to match the passive solar principles with no views on the North and overheating caused by the preferred West facing windows to take in the views. Another challenge is to keep it affordable but at the same time create a quality and beautiful home. The steepness of the site isn’t helping and creates its own challenges. Since it will be a small home to live in and we are only building the space we really need our aim is to keep the plan as open and spacious as possible and avoid unused space. Our preferred option was to have parking out of the sight behind or below the house but this has proven to be too expensive or the hill too steep.

The design Duncan has created is a small 71.5 m2 home with an East to West axis to achieve economy of construction, practical vehicle access and outdoor space and optimization of Westerly views. A 19 m2 loft optimizes the use of space.

The timber louvered roof over the North facing veranda is specifically located and angled to bring in low angled winter sun in the living room for passive solar design. During summer the roof angle and louvers will provide shading and the home is designed for optimized passive cooling using stack effect and cross ventilation. Windows are startegically positioned to maximize passive air flow and cooling through the home, reducing heat build-up from Westerly solar gain.

Other green technologies are above building code insulation, insulated glass, worm composting system, rain water collection, hot water heat pump scheduled with solar PV panels, which will also charge the electric vehicle, bio-paints and New Zealand cladding and finishes. Prefab, possibly offsite building, structurally insulated panels or cross laminated solid timber are under consideration.

The combination of the standardized contstruction methonds, site specific environmental design, passive solar gain, passive cooling, energy efficient technologies and an eventual 2kW solar panel system should render our home energy self sufficient.

Below some more pictures of the current design which is still under development.





If you are interested in all the steps, choices and compromises we make while designing and building our small home you can follow us on: or Facebook.


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