Solarei was founded on ideas that environmental sustainable design, passive design strategies, modern architectural form and a site specific design approach play equal roles in defining and crafting houses and buildings. By clearly identifying client requirements and key environmental factors from the outset of a project, we achieve an outcome suitable for people, budget, environment, sustainability and  technological parameters.

By designing houses and building that specifically respond to local environments and climates we maximise efficiencies, save significant resources over a building’s lifetime, create naturally healthy and comfortable interior environments all year round, get the most out of sunlight and natural airflow and encourage an intuitive and engaging connection with nature through good design.

We use passive design strategies that identify seasonal sun path directions for passive solar gain, seasonal wind directions for airflow, optimized cross ventilation and stack effect for passive cooling over the summer, achieve airtightness and high levels of insulation or thermal envelope design. By designing homes that trap radiant energy (the sun’s heat) in thermal mass (concrete), we sufficiently heat a house passively over the winter and achieve a warm and comfortable interior environment. During the summer we achieve a cool and comfortable interior environment by harnessing and optimizing passive airflow, cross ventilation and stack effect.

Other aspects of sustainability we focus on are green material selection, natural and composite materials, appropriate use of advanced building material technologies (energy efficiency technology, smart insulation technology, airtightness technology, glass technology), green technology (solar panels, bio-composting waste systems, hot water heat pumps, green gadgets and appliances), and correctly understanding the ethical and ‘Cradle to Cradle’ life-cycle processes of all materials and building technologies.

We begin commercial projects by proposing an environmentally sustainable design strategy that works with the economic nature of the project and practical application of these ideas.

On request we are able to facilitate certified green houses and buildings through Greenstar or Homestar (New Zealand & Australia) and Passive house (Germany).


Duncan Firth
Director/ Northland/Bangkok

Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP): Design Two, BP121392
Allied Professional: New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA)
Homestar Practitioner: New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC)
Bachelor of Architecture: (UNITEC, NZ)

Duncan has spent half his architecture career working in New Zealand and the other half working in Southeast Asia. Types of project experience ranges from interior design, house design, medium density housing design, commercial building design, resort design, embassy design, school renovation design, condominium design and master planning. A strong conviction for sustainable design, people, economy and beauty inform each project he works on.

Claire Furlong
Consultant Architect/ Northland

Registered Architect (UK)
Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP):  Design Three, BP 110769
University of Plymouth, Devon: Dip. Arch (RIBA PtIII)   
University of Dundee, ScotlandBSc (Arch)

Claire is a British registered Architect with 25 years’ experience designing and managing residential, commercial and educational projects from the first conceptual idea through to the final built form in both New Zealand and the United Kingdom. Claire has studied sustainability at the University of Auckland and also manages numerous projects for the Ministry of Education throughout Northland. 

Solarei is assisted on many projects by Claire, who works as a contracting consultant sharing her depth of experiences.

Peter Grant
Consultant Project Manager/ Northland

Regenesis Design Practitioner: Regenesis Group, USA
LRPS: Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society
Bachelor of Arts in Sociology: Victoria University, Wellington,

Peter Grant has worked in various sectors of the design and construction industry over the last thirty years. He started as a carpenter on skyscrapers in Wellington, then London before becoming a UK based architectural photographer, been published in The Guardian, The Times and The World of Interiors.

Peter brought a yacht in the USA and sailed with his family back to New Zealand over three years qualifying as a Yacht Master on the way.

In 2016 he designed and built an eco-house and will soon complete a ‘Diploma in Architectural Technology’ through Open Polytechnic, New Zealand.

Solarei is assisted on projects by Peter, who works as a contracting Consultant Project Manager.