Perched on the edge of the Manukau Har­bour, this Man­gere Bridge home fea­tures cut­ting-edge eco fea­tures and a thor­oughly mod­ern look, but re­cy­cled tim­bers give it style and soft­ness.

Element - - Business - By James Rus­sell

When Joe and Peta Davy turn their mind to build­ing new things, they first think about how they can in­cor­po­rate old ma­te­ri­als.

So it is with their brand new Man­gere Bridge home, which makes use of re­cy­cled and re­cov­ered tim­bers with in­ter­est­ing ori­gins.

Joe and Peta bought the prop­erty – com­plete with an ex­ist­ing home – as an in­vest­ment, but fell in love with the lo­ca­tion; to the north, just a hop over the stile, are the rocky, un­du­lat­ing fields of Am­bury Re­gional Park com­plete with an­cient mid­dens and ku­mara pits. To the west the farm land slopes down to the Manukau Har­bour, dot­ted here and there with sheep and the odd pukeko.

The cou­ple de­cided to re­move the ex­ist­ing house and build their dream home ac­cord­ing to the prin­ci­ples of Stha­p­atya Veda – the Hindu ver­sion of Feng Shui – a tra­di­tion that has been in Joe’s fam­ily for a long time. A set of ar­chi­tec­tural and plan­ning prin­ci­ples based on an­cient San­skrit texts, the prac­tice has strict rules gov­ern­ing the ori­en­ta­tion, pro­por­tions and green build­ing ma­te­ri­als of the build­ing.

Hap­pily those rules dic­tate that the build­ing must face ex­actly north, and the flar­ing north end of the build­ing lets in the max­i­mum quo­tient of win­ter sun. At the win­ter sol­stice the mid­day sun reaches ex­actly to the back of the pol­ished con­crete slab, pro­vid­ing max­i­mum pas­sive so­lar warm­ing. In sum­mer the slab is sun-free, and ex­cess heat in the build­ing es­capes via what Peta calls the ‘school lou­vers’ high in the north wall.

The sun’s warmth is also utilised to heat the home’s hot wa­ter through rooftop so­lar pan­els, and on cold, cloudy days the wood burner’s wet­back makes up the short­fall. “We turned off our hot wa­ter tank three months ago,” says Joe.

Other en­ergy fea­tures in­clude low en­ergy LED light­ing through­out and, most ob­vi­ously, the build­ing’s small size, at just 160 square me­tres. “Houses are get­ting so big th­ese days – it’s com­mon to hear of 350-square-me­tre homes for a fam­ily of three or four. If a home is de­signed well there is no need to have such a big build­ing,” says Peta, a de­signer at in­te­rior de­sign firm Yel­low­fox. Th­ese en­ergy ef­fi­ciency fea­tures all show up most ob­vi­ously in the cou­ple’s power bill – around $70 per month.

Now back to that wood. The fact that Joe’s fa­ther started the tim­ber re­cov­ery busi­ness Kauri Ware­house – which Joe now man­ages – means he had bet­ter ac­cess to, and more in­cli­na­tion to use, re­cy­cled tim­bers than most. The floor and slid­ing bed­room and bath­room doors in the house are all built us­ing re­cy­cled tawa from an old state house in Re­muera. The kitchen bench is made from tim­ber milled from re­tired Auck­land power poles – hav­ing served one pur­pose bring­ing en­ergy to the city’s homes, it now brings a vi­brant golden en­ergy to the kitchen. The same pow­er­pole tim­ber has been used on the ex­te­rior of the house in a purely aes­thetic fash­ion. An Aus­tralian hard­wood va­ri­ety, it brings a warmth and soft­ness to the look of the home and mar­ries well with the nat­u­ral sur­round­ings.

En­cir­cling the house – also a part of Stha­p­atya Veda – is a low wooden fence. The tim­ber for the fence – felled and stock­piled on the side of a forestry road in the cen­tral north is­land over 60 years ago while two gen­er­a­tions of pine forests grew and were cleared around it – was even­tu­ally res­cued by Joe’s fa­ther who saw its value.

The western side of Mount Man­gere is a windy place, ex­posed to the south west­er­lies that come scream­ing across the har­bour, but the ori­en­ta­tion and small ‘wings’ on the north­ern, liv­ing end of the house pro­vide an oa­sis. It nicely sums up the feel of the home – city liv­ing that feels like more like ru­ral, thor­oughly mod­ern de­sign, but soft­ened with the tim­ber of ages past.

Clock­wise Clock­wise from from top: top: The flar­ing open end of the liv­ing area faces due north to let in the max­i­mum amount of sun. Photo: James Rus­sell; Lou­vers above the stack­ing doors let out ex­cess heat in sum­mer; re­cy­cled power poles were used to con­struct the kitchen work top; re­cy­cled tawa is used for the floors and in­ter­nal doors. Pho­tos: Ted Baghurst.

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