Urutawa Drive Passive Solar House in Kerikeri, New Zealand, is a two bedroom retirement house with a fully glazed northern elevation designed for optimised passive solar gain, while also achieving privacy from surrounding neighbours, and strategic solar panel location over the garage roof. The main feature view of the house is a reinstated wetland which collects and cleans storm water run-off, this determined the location and passive solar orientation of the house.

An insulated ground polished and exposed aggregate concrete floor captures and stores the suns radiant energy. Bathrooms, storage and entry are located on the south side of the house freeing up the northern aspect for solar gain, and view. The north and south elevations are designed around two key principles, optimised solar gain and natural ventilation. Locations of windows allow cool air to enter the house during summer and then exit via stack effect through top light windows. This keeps the house cool and comfortable during warmer months.

The location and shape of the garage roof is designed to receive a 3kW grid connected solar panel system. An anticipated electrical energy load of 2500kWhs annually has been designed for or an annual energy index of 20.8kWh per/sqm. Internal temperatures passively peak at 24⁰ during later afternoon mid-winter with the extreme low being 17⁰ during early morning. So far the house has thermally performed as calculated.

Green technologies and features that have been incorporated into the house are an onsite bio-tank for sewage treatment, hot water is electrically heated, 30,000 litres of rainwater harvesting capacity providing drinking water, above code insulation for walls and roof, insulated glass windows, the building is clad in weather board with charcoal coloured bricks on the southern elevation, and energy efficient appliances are standard items.

The combination of passive design strategies, passive solar, passive cooling, energy efficiency and an eventual 3kW solar panel system will render the house energy self-sufficient.

+ Location: Kerikeri, New Zealand
+ Programme: Retirement House
+ Client: Private Owner
+ Site area: 1 acre
+ Built area: 160sqm
+ Status:  Built
+ Credit: Duncan Firth, Adrian Taylor



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