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Generic House Designing Begins


In the past month there has been lots of activity on the building front at Kotare Village and I figured it would be a good time to introduce the biggest of these projects, village housing. I intend this to be the first in a series of posts which share a bit about the building process along the way. Before I get into the projects, I’ll introduce myself–my name is Kyle and I’m taking on the role of village architect.  A super quick version of my background: I’ve had mini-careers in finance and economics, snowboard instruction, building consenting and architecture (with my main architectural experience being in modular design, passive-solar design and tiny houses.)

One month ago I arrived at Kotare Village and we’ve been having a series of great meetings discussing the various housing options available to the village.  A clear direction is emerging towards collectively pursuing a Generic Design with our aims being the following criteria:

  • Passive solar.  By storing the sun’s abundant energy in our thermally absorbent floors, our houses will be warm throughout winter at little or no cost.  Summer temperatures will remain constant with eaves and window placements designed to keep unwanted summer heat from entering the building.
  • Affordable.  Sharing a common design enables us to spread the fixed costs (consenting and inspecting, engineering, etc.) over a large number of people.  And ‘mass production’ allows us efficiencies in both streamlined construction and bulk-buying of materials.
  • Non-toxic.  Douglas Fir is a stronger, more durable timber than the ubiquitous Radiata Pine–meaning that by selecting Douglas Fir we eliminate toxic timber treatments.  
  • Simple and quick.  We want our houses to be simple enough that we can build and maintain them ourselves and direct our energy towards the humming village.
  • Modular. The basic home unit is designed to be easily extended to suit the family sizes and space requirements of all villagers.
  • Customisable/Adaptable. A basic shell designed to evolve with its inhabitants over time.
  • Appropriate.  The homes are designed to make use of locally available materials such as Douglas Fir for our structure, Macrocarpa for our cladding, clays for natural plasters, wool for roof and wall insulation and pumice for floor insulation.
  • Small.  By designing multipurpose rooms with functional outdoor space, house sizes can be reduced and give villagers access to the highest quality home at an affordable price. 

Without veering outside of commonly accepted building techniques and materials, there is an opportunity for us to build the affordable, functional, durable homes we want but which aren’t really available in New Zealand.  

The shape our concept design is coming together and in the next post I’ll share some of the drawings and images we’re using to develop our ideas.

Please check out our Opportunities Page if you’re interested in our Lead Builder Position.


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