The homes of the fu­ture

Kiwi ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers say strong trends are emerg­ing, and we’re not talk­ing ‘favourite colours’. Colleen Hawkes re­ports.

Taranaki Daily News - - Summer -

Colour and fur­ni­ture trends come and go al­most as fast as you can say ‘‘The Block NZ’’, but ar­chi­tec­tural trends take a lot longer to evolve.

How­ever, there are key fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign of our homes, and changes are al­ready hap­pen­ing.

And yes, the hous­ing short­age in our big ci­ties and the high cost of build­ing are two key in­flu­ences.

Lance and Ni­cola Herbst of Herbst Ar­chi­tects in Auck­land, who won the Sir Ian Ath­field Hous­ing Award in the 2018 NZIA awards, say we can ex­pect to see more medi­um­den­sity hous­ing projects un­der way over the next year.

‘‘In Auck­land, for ex­am­ple, the Uni­tary Plan has cre­ated new zones that al­low for more dense hous­ing on the pe­riph­ery of the city,’’ says Lance Herbst. ‘‘We are see­ing a lot more sub­ur­ban ter­race houses that dif­fer from the tra­di­tional mod­els in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne in that they are taller and slightly closer to­gether.

‘‘Sim­i­larly, we are see­ing more low-level [as op­posed to high-rise] apart­ment de­vel­op­ments. The apart­ment model is still rel­a­tively new to New Zealand – it was ini­tially rental ac­com­mo­da­tion for stu­dents, but we have seen a ma­tur­ing of that mar­ket.’’

Ar­chi­tect Craig South of Cy­mon All­frey Ar­chi­tec­ture in Christchurch pre­dicts we will see more ‘‘shell de­vel­op­ments’’, sim­i­lar to a scheme he has seen in Mel­bourne. Buy­ers sign up for an apart­ment while it is still just a shell that they can then cus­tomise to suit their needs.

‘‘A young fam­ily might re­quire three bed­rooms in a 150 squareme­tre shell, while a re­tired cou­ple may pre­fer a sin­gle big suite and an ex­tra-large liv­ing space for en­ter­tain­ing.’’

South also says clients have a de­sire for no-main­te­nance prop­er­ties. He says the cedar weath­er­board phe­nom­e­non of the past five years may be on the way out – peo­ple don’t want to be re-stain­ing their house ev­ery three years to keep ‘‘the look’’.

But while we will con­tinue to see more pre­fab­ri­cated el­e­ments, don’t ex­pect to see too much change in ma­te­ri­als. In the wake of the leaky homes scan­dal, ar­chi­tects of­ten don’t want to risk a new tech­nol­ogy, pre­fer­ring to to stick with tried-andtrue ma­te­ri­als, such as weath­er­boards, brick and metal cladding sys­tems.

How­ever, the use of in­no­va­tive ma­te­ri­als, such as CLT (cross­lam­i­nated tim­ber) and SIP (struc­turally in­su­lated pan­els) is more about the re­li­a­bil­ity of sup­ply.

There are some key vis­ual changes we can ex­pect to see com­ing off the draw­ing boards this year, in­clud­ing a no­tice­able move to­wards brick­work, and arches.

‘‘It’s been a long time since we saw arches and bar­rel-vault roofs,’’ says Lance Herbst. ‘‘But the arch is ev­ery­where, in a big way – so far, I have re­sisted. But it is nice to see brick­work com­ing in again.’’

The award-win­ning team from Cy­mon All­frey Ar­chi­tec­ture in Christchurch, who won the ADNZ Supreme House of the Year Award in 2018, is more fo­cused on sharper sculp­tural forms. The house has be­come art, and more of­ten, there’s an el­e­ment of play­ful­ness.

‘‘It’s all about ex­cite­ment,’’ says South. ‘‘We have been work­ing on sculp­tural ar­chi­tec­tural projects for a few years now and there’s more to come. Of course, func­tion is im­por­tant, but there’s no rea­son you can’t have a bit of fun with ar­chi­tec­ture at the same time.

‘‘That play­ful­ness can come from the shapes and spa­ces within a house, the high ceil­ings and the pitch of the roof – all these things can make the jour­ney through the house more in­ter­est­ing.

‘‘We have clients now telling us they don’t want square rooms.’’

Con­trol­ling the en­vi­ron­ment

Adapt­abil­ity re­mains a key fo­cus for de­sign­ers. ‘‘It’s all about con­trol­ling the en­vi­ron­ment,’’ says Herbst. ‘‘The New Zealand cli­mate is fast chang­ing – we can get four sea­sons in one day and we need to be able to adapt a house to suit pre­vail­ing winds.’’

The ar­chi­tect says there are a lot more mov­ing parts in a house as screens come into play. ‘‘The ar­chi­tec­ture comes out of that need. All of these el­e­ments are quite strong, vis­ually.

‘‘And it comes from the de­sire to en­gage with na­ture; we are de­sign­ing homes that al­low peo­ple to be out­side all the time. It’s the mod­ern way of liv­ing and it’s be­come the norm. The days of the big glass box and an air con­di­tion­ing unit are gone.’’

To­day it’s all about sus­tain­abil­ity, but Herbst says it’s no longer a ‘‘knee-jerk re­ac­tion’’ to the cause. Rather, it’s about com­mon sense and pas­sive de­sign. Houses are very well in­su­lated and de­signed to let the sun in dur­ing win­ter but not in sum­mer, when good cross ven­ti­la­tion comes into play.

‘‘Sus­tain­abil­ity is not a one-word an­swer. Ev­ery­thing we do is a value judg­ment as to what is the best so­lu­tion,’’ Herbst says. The ar­chi­tect says many houses are now de­signed to ac­com­mo­date so­lar pan­els, ei­ther im­me­di­ately or in the fu­ture.’’

Many home­own­ers are nail­ing down their so­lar en­ergy needs for the next 20 years with So­larcity. The com­pany re­cently launched the so­larZero ser­vice in­stalling free so­lar pan­els and bat­ter­ies for home­own­ers in re­turn for a 20-year fixed en­ergy bill.

Al­ready, 3000 homes are gen­er­at­ing 13.6GWh of elec­tric­ity each year – enough to power a small town – and CEO An­drew Booth de­scribes it as a ‘‘vir­tual power sta­tion project’’ that can re­turn power to the na­tional grid. Craig South says Cy­mon All­frey Ar­chi­tects’ clients are also want­ing to fu­ture-proof their homes, fre­quently re­quest­ing so­lar pan­els, and want­ing to en­sure their heat­ing sys­tems are com­pat­i­ble with so­lar en­ergy.

‘‘Peo­ple are a lot more fa­mil­iar with cli­mate change and that is start­ing to im­pact the de­sign briefs we get,’’ says South. ‘‘Even main­stream clients can see the ben­e­fits of well-in­su­lated, well­ven­ti­lated spa­ces.’’ Chargers for elec­tric cars are also be­com­ing more com­mon.

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