This angular passive house is built on a slope in New Zealand and leans into the wind!


This modern New Zealand house is a passive structure that won an award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects for its sense of fun and the way the design unfolds from the outside to the inside – it makes you feel like you are on vacation but in a house where you can stay all year round. The Long Grass House harmoniously combines affordability, durability and quality of life!

Using inexpensive plywood on the inside and steel cladding on the outside gives it an aesthetic that is both persistent and modern with contrast. The interiors are attractive, with plenty of space, natural light and material warmth. The design approach has focused on including what is really needed in order to produce what is sufficient; positively reduce the waste of space and building materials.

It presents a simple plan for a medium-sized house with a spacious garage and an interesting layout of the bathroom, utility room and entrance. The garage and main structure complement each other and almost look like two perfectly tilted Lego blocks! The award jury noted how the Long Grass House is a great example of using inexpensive materials and realizing real value from them.

The angled ends are meant to appear to be tilted into the prevailing wind, but it’s really a smart energy-saving trick to create overhangs that shield windows from the northern sun. The architect notes: “The shape of the building is compact, resulting in a low form factor, and its compactness results in low energy demand. Passive house energy calculations were used to guide design decisions – using current climate data and predicted future climate data.

A panoramic skylight runs the length of the building and connects to a vertical window and you can see it from inside in the kitchen. This light is a minimal yet eye-catching detail in the home that’s designed with thrifty details, colorful trims, and simple geometric shapes. The wooden staircase leads to an attic above the bathroom and the utility room.

“Every material and surface here is durable and will take a hard hit, which was at the heart of all material decisions, including coating. We wanted to make sure that each product we specified would stand the test of time in this harsh environment and be suitable for the family to live with their changing needs for years to come, ”the team said.

The house receives a lot of attention for the slopes that lean into the wind, but the real appreciation should be for the simplicity and economy of the materials used throughout. Steel siding is one of the most durable and affordable materials for the exterior. While plywood is perfect for durable interiors without increasing costs and maintaining a timeless look. The compact structure helps ensure low energy demand, and passive house energy calculations have been used to make many design decisions using current and future (predicted) climate data. Long Grass House is perfect for a modern, environmentally conscious family looking for a forever home on a budget!

Designer: Rafe Maclean

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