Office to rise from the rubble


One person’s rubble might be potential material for Gap Filler’s new office.

Sustainable Habitat Challenge (SHAC) and ReGeneration Trust New Zealand are collaborating to build an office for Gap Filler in Colombo St, Sydenham, with the help of volunteers and as many recycled or sustainable materials as possible.

Gap Filler project co-ordinator Coralie Winn said she was humbled by the plan.

“It’s a very generous gesture that they are doing this for us and also teaching young people building and design skills,” she said.

Gap Filler, which emerged after the September 2010 earthquake, has overseen several urban regeneration projects, such as the Lyttelton Petanque Club, the “book fridge” and the painted-piano project.

It has been based in Winn’s front room.

“Since November, we’ve hired a part-time helper, and people have been coming and going,” she said.

“It will be great to have an office that’s not at home. It would be quite nice to fill a gap with our own office.”

SHAC’s Tim Bishop said the frame of the 10-square-metre office would be built from recycled timber from demolished buildings, and the windows would also be recycled.

Waste polystyrene would be used for insulation, while the external walls would be constructed from wooden pallets usually used for transporting heavy goods.

“We want to show how to creatively reuse material left over from the earthquake. It’s a bit of a test. A few things are going to be new, like nails and building paper,” he said.

The project also aims to show young people that it can be easy and fun to build small buildings with sustainable materials.

Demolition and salvage yards, including Southern Demolition & Salvage, Musgroves and the Window Market Place, are also involved in the project.

The Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology is contributing equipment and helping to find a licensed builder.

The build will take a week, from January 23 to January 28.

Volunteers can sign up here.


via Office to rise from the rubble – the-press |

ReGenerating small, sustainable SHACs in the temporarily vacant sites of Christchurch


The ReGeneration Trust and SHAC (Sustainable Habitat Challenge) are keen to get rebuilding Christchurch. In January 2012, we’ll be running a six-day building project – starting from scratch, we’ll be working with builders, architects and a crew of young people to create a funky, recycled, moveable office for the Gap Filler project.

Gap Filler is a creative urban regeneration initiative that aims to temporarily activate vacant sites within Christchurch with creative projects, to make for a more interesting, dynamic and vibrant city. They’ve run a series of awesome projects, like the Lyttleton Petanque Club, Gap Filler Community Chess and the Think Differently Book Exchange.

We’ll be building an office for Gap Filler, using as many recycled and sustainable materials as we can. Our aim is to demonstrate that anyone can build and create, all it takes is some motivation and a few practical tools. We also want showcase the possibilities of holistic sustainability –
small, well insulated, water tight buildings made from a mixture of reused, recycled and sustainable materials.

ReGen and SHAC are now looking for motivated people who are willing to step up, represent and take practical action for positive change. The Christchurch 10m2 Building Project in an opportunity for creative, hands on types to work alongside experts on sustainable building, to learn new skills and share ideas for Christchurch in the future. We’ll be learning new skills each day and putting them into practice building walls, putting up roofs, cladding, internal lining, insulation and painting. And we’ll be documenting the process with stories, film and photographs.

If you’re a young person or a builder and you’re keen to be involved, get in touch! Email or

Happyzine » ReGenerating small, sustainable SHACs in the temporarily vacant sites of Christchurch.

Electric Bicycle – BMX


Tim Bishop, Electric BMX Bicycle

24″ wheels, nine continents motor, kelly controller, 48V, 350Watt-hour LiFePO4 battery pack

Range: 12km.  Top speed: 37km/hr


Parts List
1 x Capacitor-16S-30A-BMS (Capacitor-16S-30A-BMS)  = $69.00
1 x KP-J(240W) Charger (KP-J(240W))  = $36.00
1 x Kelly KBS48121,50A,24-48V BLDC Motor Speed Controller
(KBS48121,50A,24-48V)  = $146.00
nine continents motor via Ebike-kit distributor  US $152.00
Batteries 48x US$6  + shipping (let’s ignore shipping) = US$288 = NZ$390
Spokes $35 + 25 shp. $60 usd and others
Fiberglass  NZ$20
Connectors (10 andersons connectors) 10x US$0.25 = NZ$3.50
Black adhesive foam tape  (Super cheap auto)  NZ$8.17
Brake cable and brake outer (Bike Otago) NZ$24.00
KMC Chain (Bike Otago) NZ$19.90
Super glue, LED and Heatshrink NZ$9.70
Charging socket (Jaycar)NZ$4.90
Charging Plug (Jaycar)  NZ$5.50
Handlebar On/off switch mount = NZ$12

Kevin McClouds grand design for British housing [The Observer]


“Anyone can build an eco-home,” he says, “but it doesn’t solve anything. There is nothing to stop them turning up the thermostat. What’s more interesting is the way people live and behave.” So the Triangle has allotments and polytunnels where people can grow their own food, and a car club and a scooter club that make their use of transport less wasteful. He sees such things as more important than the design features of individual houses.

via Kevin McClouds grand design for British housing [The Observer]


Micro Architecture Symposium 2011 Awards


SHAC Awards for 2011:



Bruce Thompson

Experience building lightweight concrete infill construction for 15 years (egg cartons are not waste, they are a construction material) >>>

Liz Buxton

Designs from Sudan and Dunedin

Thomas Malpass

Simple buildings with trainee builders at Wintec in Hamilton

Andrew Just

A modular and very portable initiative designed to create a home for Christchurch artists, and a 15m2 accommodation unit built into a grain silo.  >>>

Michael Cambridge

Marlborough Housing Trust “Snug” – a high quality work space, bedroom or sauna using precut pine heartwood, and other European and North American examples. >>>

Chris and Ben

Developing and launching SPACE Moveable Rooms. Why we designed the way we did / transport constraints / commercial considerations / how the market is responding / new developments. >>>

Bomun Bock-Chung

Creating the best low cost, sustainable structures that are easy to build. >>>

Chris Moller

Developing a click-raft system and urban scale initiatives such as ‘city on a roof.  see or

Mark Fielding

Building homes using pallet frames, and other recycled waste materials in an effort towards marrying ecologically sustainability with affordability. >>>

Kevin Scally

UpDown Housing is a modular building system based on the design intelligence of early colonial buildings. They often started off as sheds and matured into houses. Inherent in their construction were features that made them easy to modify and recycle. UpDown Housing incorporated and extends this vernacular intelligence and design flexibility. This Cradle to Cradle system holds in trust the ecological investment in the building. The approach also anticipates the recycling, re-purposing and up-cycling of the modular components. Think Ikea and Mechano.  >>>

SHAC Symposium on Micro-Architecture, Simple Buildings, and Student Projects


Cost: $120 waged professionals / $40 students and others.
Date: Dunedin, 19-20th November, Registration on Saturday 9:00 – 16:00 / Sunday 9:00 – 15:00
Location: Ozone Lounge / Manaaki  / Otago Polytechnic / 51 Harbour Tce / Dunedin

Register Here >>>

How can today’s young people create their delightful and affordable homes and neighbourhoods?

This symposium brings together designers and builders who have figured out how to build a better way.

Let’s get to know each other.

Come for the weekend to the Otago Polytechnic to share your ideas and learn from local, national, and international innovative builders and designers.

SHAC Awards for 2011!

  • Commercialisation – Ben and Chris from SPACE
  • Practical Innovation – Michael Cambridge from Ecotect
  • Design – Andrew Just from CPIT and F3 Design
  • Pushing the Boundaries – Bomun Bock-Chung from Awhi Farms
  • Youth Participation and Supreme Awards – Thomas Malpass, Carpentry Tutor from Wintec



Bruce Thompson

Experience building lightweight concrete infill construction for 15 years (egg cartons are not waste, they are a construction material) >>>

Liz Buxton

Designs from Sudan and Dunedin

Thomas Malpass

Simple buildings with trainee builders at Wintec in Hamilton

Andrew Just

A modular and very portable initiative designed to create a home for Christchurch artists, and a 15m2 accommodation unit built into a grain silo.  >>>

Michael Cambridge

Marlborough Housing Trust “Snug” – a high quality work space, bedroom or sauna using precut pine heartwood, and other European and North American examples. >>>

Chris and Ben

Developing and launching SPACE Moveable Rooms. Why we designed the way we did / transport constraints / commercial considerations / how the market is responding / new developments. >>>

Bomun Bock-Chung

Creating the best low cost, sustainable structures that are easy to build. >>>

Chris Moller

Developing a click-raft system and urban scale initiatives such as ‘city on a roof.  see or

Mark Fielding

Building homes using pallet frames, and other recycled waste materials in an effort towards marrying ecologically sustainability with affordability. >>>

Kevin Scally

UpDown Housing is a modular building system based on the design intelligence of early colonial buildings. They often started off as sheds and matured into houses. Inherent in their construction were features that made them easy to modify and recycle. UpDown Housing incorporated and extends this vernacular intelligence and design flexibility. This Cradle to Cradle system holds in trust the ecological investment in the building. The approach also anticipates the recycling, re-purposing and up-cycling of the modular components. Think Ikea and Mechano.  >>>

Incorporating the SHAC Awards for 2011!

Cost: $120 waged professionals / $40 students and others.

Date: Dunedin, 19-20th November

Location: Ozone Lounge / Manaaki  / Otago Polytechnic

51 Harbour Terrace / Dunedin (link to a map can be viewed here:
If you would like to share your work or ideas in the symposium, we are still receiving expression of interest so get back to us so we can organize a time for you to present. 8 minute and 20 minutes slots available.
Or if you would like to participate in the discussion you can register by following the link:

Register Here >>>

Country Conversion


When Matthew and Rebecca Taggat found a picturesque rural section in Raglan with a view to the Coast, it was love at first sight. The only problem was that they were not quite ready to build their “dream home”. The spot where they ultimately plan on building faces out to the nine acres of native bush that is part of their section, but for the interim, they decided a renovation was in order. A TotalSpan shed already on the site piqued their interest, and the renovation that ensued is testament to their creative vision from the beginning. At the time they embarked uponthe renovation, Rebecca was pregnant with
youngest daughter Ruby (now 10 months) and Milla was not yet one year old. Perhaps that was what spurred builder Daniel Klinkenberg of Urban Residential Developments Ltd into gear! From start to finish, Daniel took only three months to complete the transformation, and finished on the exact day he had specified in the contract. “We were
so impressed,” says Rebecca. “On the morning he finished, Daniel had cleaners in the house,and when he passed us the keys that afternoon, everything was perfect.”The revamped shed is still classified as an auxiliary building, to comply with local council regulations, and with that classification came some restrictions. The living area could be
no more than 70 square metres, plus three bedrooms and an office for Matthew. “There are some very clever design features,” says Rebecca. “For instance the roller door is still in place, kept high up and out of the way, but glass sliders in the same position really open the house up.” One thing that has changed drastically behind the scenes of the dwelling is the level of insulation. It had to be warm and healthy for the family of four, and the insulation instantly made the home more energy efficient. Rebecca and Matthew were pleased that Daniel put in “as much insulation as possible,” as well as double glazing
throughout. Another important part of the renovation was a new roof. The original was termed as a “shedding roof”, and the Taggarts wanted the safety of a residential grade alternative. To transform the shed into a home, extensive measures were taken, particularly across the front of the façade. “The whole face of the shed changed, but we stuck with iron on the other sides.” Cedar cladding softens the exterior, and Kwila decking helped to create an outdoor room. This is where the Taggart family spend most of their time in summer, in the sun and looking out toward the native bush.The interior is very light and
open, and belies the actual dimensionsof the home. A mainly white colour selection keeps each room spacious, as does the high pitch of the ceilings. Resene colour Alabaster is the shade throughout the house, with the ceilings in Resene Rice Cake. A soft Tasmanian Oak
floor also adds warmth, while keeping the feel light and airy.


BEFORE & AFTER The former shed was once part of a large paddock in
which cows roamed, before it received
a comprehensive make-over to transform it into a family home.
FURNITURE Found on Trade Me, this feature chair adds a contemporary
feel with its modern patterned fabric.
KITCHEN HERB BOX In order to comply with local council regulations, a
recess had to be in place between the windowsill and the kitchen
bench. The result was a living herb garden, which fills the recess
FIRE With its radiant design the Metro H.T series wood burner is great
for heating open plan spaces. Finished
in metallic black high temperature paint, with a cooktop surface, this
fire is a great all rounder.


Urban Residential Developments Ltd
0275 397 005
Michel Caesar
Plain & Fancy Kitchens and Cabinets
07 847 4563
Metro Fires
Cedar Corp
0800 423 327
Brett Bateman Tiling
0800 4 47688

Homestyle, August/September, pg 52-56


Building work that does not require a building consent [DBH]


Detached buildings

Exemption (i) of Schedule 1

A building consent is not required for the following building work:

  • (i) building work in connection with any detached building (except a building that is required to be licensed in terms of the Hazardous Substances and New Organisms Act 1996 or a building closer than its own height to any residential accommodation or to any legal boundary) that-
  • (i) houses fixed plant or machinery, the only normal visits to which are intermittent visits for routine inspection and maintenance of that plant or machinery; or
  • (ii) into which, or into the immediate vicinity of which, people cannot or do not normally go; or
  • (iii) is used only by people engaged in the construction or maintenance of another building for which a building consent is required; or
  • (iv) does not exceed 1 storey, does not exceed 10 square metres in floor area, and does not contain sanitary facilities or facilities for the storage of potable water, but may contain sleeping accommodation (without cooking facilities) if the detached building is used in connection with a dwelling.

via Building work that does not require a building consent.

EKOKIT – Modular homes from Ebode & Hybrid Homes






EKOKIT is a range of self-build eco houses that have been specifically designed to be flexible, sustainable and within the price reach of ordinary New Zealanders.

EKOKIT homes can be built anywhere in New Zealand, under the supervision of a Licensed Building Practitioner. If you don’t wish to manage your EKOKIT build yourself your EKOKIT is also available as a complete finished home through Planet Homes.

via EKOKIT – from Ebode & Hybrid Homes.

F3 Design’s ArtBox






ArtBox aims to provide exhibition and retail space for approximately 100 Christchurch artists, craft practitioners and design retailers who have lost workspace and outlets, through the creation flexible and portable modules, all of which have been locally designed and manufactured.

The project, instigated by CPIT in conjunction with Christchurch firm F3 Design, will begin with 18 modules being placed in and around the CPIT campus, with the hope that with the community’s support it can branch out to support a River of Arts throughout the city.

Pippin Wright-Stow, who co-owns F3 Design with his sister Ella, said the idea was spearheaded by F3 Design employee Andrew Just, who also lectures at CPIT’s architecture school.

The ArtBox modules are a 2.9m cube that allow for the creation of comfortable and highly adaptable spaces. They can be stacked, oriented and arranged in various practical configurations, insulated with wool, and are weather-tight. And because the modules are based around a steel hollow section frame, Wright-Stow said they have are very strong and have the ability to resist loads placed by earthquakes.

They’re not designed for one-off use either. Their unique design allows for multi-functional and multi-purpose use across a number of industries, from artists and jewellers to craftspeople and education institutions, as well as festivals and events.

“The idea is that they can be on-sold and used as commercial or residential dwellings,” said Wright-Stow.

Featuring interchangeable wall and flooring panels, the boxes can be placed on any surface, including concrete and grass.

via Architects and engineers collaborate in solution for displaced artists and designers












Marlborough Snug


The Marlborough Snug is an innovative  design providing a high quality work space, bedroom or sauna using the unique properties of pine heartwood.

The Snug is a Marlborough Regional Development Trust affordable housing project.

It uses European research plus locally grown materials and local businesses.

Everyone who has seen it just loves it.

The first Snug is now in Christchurch at 166 Ferry Road where it is being used a tempory office.

Keep watching this site to find out how you can see it.


Marlborough Snug.


L41 – ultra-compact, sustainable, high-design, high quality, energy-efficient house


The L41 home, designed by Architect Michael Katz and  Artist Janet Corne is a 220 sq. ft. ultra-compact, sustainable, high-design, high quality, energy-efficient house. The L41 home makes it possible for the millions of people who otherwise could not afford to buy a house, to become homeowners.

Simply making a house small, however, is not good enough, it must be highly livable and delightful and the L41 is both.

In the same way that the Model-T made it possible for the masses to own a car, so too, the key to providing a house for everyone is to minimize its size and to utilize mass-production. The L41 has been specifically designed to be a mass-produced, “State-of-the-Art” house and could become part of the important group of affordable products such as the $2,500 Tata car

Sub-compact, highly affordable houses can satisfy the needs of many diverse groups:

•  First-time buyers   •   Students     •   Seniors   •    Hotels   •   Pied ‘d terres

•  Special-needs      •   Homeless    •   Military   •   Emergency housing

The L41 home is designed for a generation that understands the principles of “small is beautiful”, preservation of resources, improving the lives of others and enhancing our f uture by means of sustainable actions. With every inch of space utilized and many built-in storage solutions provided, L41 fulfills the maxim, “everything in its place and a place for everything”.





L41 is constructed of Cross-laminated Timber, (CLT) a relatively new wood product in North America. The true benefit of CLT is that it is solid wood and can be used as a substitute for concrete in mid-rise buildings. (the British have built 9 stories) When one considers that concrete is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon emissions, the implications become clear.

L41 homes can be built in many configurations, from a single unit to high-rise buildings and because of the high achievable densities, can play a significant role in providing affordable housing in inner-city locations. In addition to the 220 sq. ft. Studio, there also is a 290 sq. ft. 1-Bed and a 360 sq. ft. 2-Bedroom unit.

Read more… L41.

Rural Southern Studio: Small Space, Small Budget



Baltimorean Will Homan, along with Pernilla Hagberth from Sweden and Clementine Blakemore from England, took on the Auburn University Rural Studio challenge: plan, design, and build a $20K house in Hale County, Alabama that could potentially be produced as a viable alternative to trailers in the area and purchased with a 502 Direct Loan. Above you see the project, from beginning sketches to one finished house. After the inaugural project in 2005, this structure marks the program’s ninth iteration. Now for the details…




Read more at Rural Southern Studio: Small Space, Small Budget.

Materials for Architects and Builders


Materials for Architects and Builders is written as an introductory text to inform students at undergraduate degree and national diploma level of the relevant visual and physical properties of a wide range of building materials. The third edition has been significantly enhanced by the incorporation of full colour images throughout, illustrating the materials and in many cases their use in buildings of architectural merit. The text includes the broad environmental debate with sections on energy saving and recycled materials. There are seventeen chapters covering the wide range of materials under standard headings. Each chapter describes the manufacture, salient prop- erties and typical uses of the various materials, with the aim of ensuring their appropriate application within an awareness of their ecological impact. 

This ebook is an excellent resource.

Materials for Architects and Builders.

New Zealand Climate Data for Building Simulation


The New Zealand Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) has developed a Home Energy Rating Scheme (HERS) for New Zealand households based on software simulation of energy loss and demand. The software requires hourly data to represent the differentclimates zones around New Zealand, especially for larger population centres. These climate data consist of hourly records for an artificial year created from twelve representative months.

Please note: The data is publicly-funded data provided by the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research Limited (NIWA) and no person or entity may charge for its supply or use. While NIWA has exercised reasonable care and skill in the preparation and collation of the data files, the data is supplied on an ‘as is’ basis, without warranty of any kind. NIWA accepts no liability for any direct, indirect, special or consequential damages, loss, damage or cost arising from and relating to, any use of the data and/or the information associated with it. Full terms and conditions governing the use of the data can be found at:

Liley, J Ben, Hisako Shiona, James Sturman, David S Wratt. 2008. Typical Meteorological Years for the New Zealand Home Energy R ating Scheme. Prepared for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority. NIWA Client Report: LAU2008-01-JBL. NIWA, Omakau, New Zealand.

Files for New Zealand are available in EPW format directly from the DOE site below:
Click on the blue marker to download the efw weather file direct from the DOE Energy Plus web site.

View Larger Map

Files in the TM2 format – for TRNSYS, TRANSOL, etc, have been converted from the EPW files using  CCWorldWeatherGen without performing any climate projections. NZL_TMY_WeatherFiles_TM2



Build your own home – Wairarapa Times-Age




Masterton home eco-aware – Local News – Wairarapa Times-Age.

In 2007, Steven, an industrial design engineer, began work on the eco-friendly house he would take three years to build with his own hands.

He even built the kitchen and every piece of furniture from the shelving to the beds, and fitted solar panels, which store 2000 watts of energy.

“When building our house, there were moments in the process when we had choices, like when we were deciding on our insulation. We decided to go with recycled insulation because it’s better for the environment, and it’s a nice material to work with – you’re not working with things like fibreglass.

“We also positioned the house to the north, so the sun shines through the big windows and warms up the place.”

He said building an eco-friendly house is “not rocket science”, it is just about thinking more carefully about your choices and how they affect your wallet as well as the environment.

“These ideas have been around for ages, it’s just being aware of them when you’re building a house, or doing anything else in life, like driving. If you drive 90km/h instead of 100km/h, you can save about 15 per cent of fuel, and you also have the opportunity to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery instead of rushing.”

Recover heat – Pontos HeatCycle, reusing resources | Hansgrohe International




Intelligent water cycle for active climate protectionHow ingenious it would be if we could store and reuse the heat from the run-off shower and bath water that we use each day before it disappears down the drain forever! Now you can – with a heat recovery system from Hansgrohe. The Pontos HeatCycle system is the result of years of research. It recovers the energy from the grey water. To this end, the system uses a heat exchanger to extract the heat from the still warm grey water and uses this to heat up cold drinking water. This saves valuable resources, lowers gas or electricity bills and reduces CO2 emissions. Those who use Pontos HeatCycle can reduce their overall energy requirement for hot water preparation by up to 20%. That is good news for the climate, your wallet and our future as a whole.

via Recover heat – Pontos HeatCycle, reusing resources | Hansgrohe International.

Build Simply – Northland Northern Advocate


A few simple building rules could have saved billions of dollars and kept thousands of people in their own homes after the Canterbury earthquake, Far North Mayor Wayne Brown says.

The problems showed the complicated building codes of recent years were no help, because they were ignored or not understood.

The excellent performance of old timber-framed, iron-roofed homes – built in the decades after a swarm of earthquakes in 1859-70, long before modern building codes – proved his point, he said.



Building practices exposed by Christchurch quake – Local News – Northland Northern Advocate.

Make Pocket Parks and Gardens in Center City


Pocket parks are frequently created on a single vacant building lot or on small, irregular pieces of land. They also may be created as a component of the public space requirement of large building projects.

Girard Fountain Park, a 0.15-acre pocket park in the Old City neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pocket parks can be urban, suburban or rural, and can be on public or private land. Although they are too small for physical activities, pocket parks provide greenery, a place to sit outdoors, and sometimes a children’s playground. They may be created around a monument, historic marker or art project.

In highly urbanized areas, particularly downtowns where land is very expensive, pocket parks are the only option for creating new public spaces without large-scale redevelopment. In inner-city areas, pocket parks are often part of urban regeneration plans and provide areas where wildlife such as birds can establish a foothold. Unlike larger parks, pocket parks are sometimes designed to be fenced and locked when not in use.

[from Wikipedia, Susan Lloyd]

Provide office space from re-used shipping containers?


12 office/studio spaces constructed from 32 recycled shipping containers on an abandoned strip in Providence, Rhode Island.

There are also links to many notable container projects such as Container CityIlly CafePuma City, and Adam Kalkin’s 12 Container House

But the devil may be in the details – how are the windows be installed and flashed? And how will the gaps between containers sealed?

>>> More From Stack Design Build.

Install Urban Water Tanks


Lyndall Hancock has spent a lifetime with a rainwater tank beside the house.

Over the years, the Dunedin woman has used water collected from the roof – running down through pipes to a tank beside the house – for cooking, cleaning and even drinking, once strained and boiled.

Now aged 80, Miss Hancock lives in Waverley and still uses rainwater harvested from her latest tank to water the garden.

She told the Otago Daily Times the time was right for the Dunedin City Council to consider offering incentives to urban homeowners wanting to invest in similar schemes.

As well as everyday uses, the tanks promoted water conservation and could help ease pressure on council water services, Miss Hancock said.

The tanks would also be useful as an emergency supply, should earthquake damage in Christchurch ever occur in Dunedin.

“It used to be that houses all had a rainwater barrel. When I was a child, we had that at home. I can’t remember what the water was used for, except that when there was a drought there was always water there for the vegetable patch.

“It’s sensible. We could run out of water as quick as look at you,” she said.

via Water-tank advocate calls for incentives. {Otago Daily Times}


Craig Brown of contributed this diagram showing a safer configuration for water capture.  He mentioned he forgot to include the block of concrete at the bottom of the tank to keep the water slightly alkaline:

There are various options for water tanks, including oval and rounded rectangular tanks as seen in this SHAC(2009) Team Housewise retrofit:

Build community around neighbourhood churchs


VisionWest has seen one church grow to provide holistic care and support for all people physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.

The Trust provides housing, a kindergarten, opshop, community care, for the Henderson community in Auckland.

VisionWest Community Trust has been offering community-based services to people in West Auckland since the 1980’s. The Trust was formally incorporated as the Friendship Centre Trust in 1988 in response to a growing desire of the Glen Eden Baptist Church to help those in need in the local community. The Trust started out small with a drop-in centre at the Glen Eden Railway Station as a place where friendships were formed. The Trust responded to the needs present in the community and grew to be one of the largest community based Trusts in West Auckland.

In 2010 the Friendship Centre Trust became VisionWest Community Trust. The name evolved from the Trust’s passion and vision of hope and transformation for families living in West Auckland. VisionWest Community Trust now provides a range of community services to around 7000 individuals and families every year, with a wonderful staff and volunteer base of over 450 people. The Trust is still based out of Glen Eden Baptist Church and continues to grow and respond to needs in the West, with a mission of building hope together.

“At VisionWest we believe that we all need to have a vision and hope for the future. As a community development based organisation, our vision is to build a place of trust and openness where people feel valued and loved.

We believe in the value of holistic care and support and offer an integrated range of services and supports that care for all people physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.”

via Welcome to VisionWest Community Trust – Community Development – Holistic Care and Support – Integrated Services and Support.

VisionWest is part of the Community Housing Aotearoa Network (CHA)

To get started building a community around your church contact: 09 818 0700

Build a resilient house [NZ Herald]


“It is not enough to design purely for life safety,” says Auckland architect Barry Copeland. “A resilient house, as well as surviving structurally through an earthquake, needs to continue its function as a family home.”

In response to the Christchurch earthquake, Copeland, working with seismic engineer Barry Davidson and wastewater systems engineer Ian Gunn has developed a concept design for a house providing a high degree of self-reliance in terms of basic essential services – water, energy, drainage.

via The resilient house – National – NZ Herald News.

Walking Christchurch–Contributed by Roger Buck


BedZed Development:

BedZed 1BedZed 2BedZed 3BedZed 4


Freiberg Housing

Housing FreiburgFreiburg Community GraphicMixed Use Freiburg


Medium Density Housing, Christchurch:

Medium Density Christchurch


Frankton Proposal:

Medium Density Housing, Frankton Proposal


Existing Housing in New Zealand:

Rhys & Anne's Place 2Rhys & Anne's Place


What We Can Do (Roger Buck)

What We Can Do


Bricks Work – After 22 Feb Earthquake:

EQ Bricks Still On Hi Mass House


Urban Growth – Two Examples of Another Way

[Article Submitted to the Christchurch Press on Urban Form]

Although the evidence is all around us there seems to be little appreciation of the depth of the impacts that the car-industry giants, allied to the oil industry, have had on our lives. They have in a very short time destroyed our sense of community – the human-to-human interactions that are the foundation of human existence – and greatly increased our cost of living (which represents a massive transfer of wealth from us to them) in order to meet their own self-centred, commercially-driven objectives.

To achieve this General Motors and Ford (in particular) took over the design of our cities. And as first steps in that direction public transport systems were destroyed, or, at best, marginalised, and road-based urban sprawl took over as the primary means of dealing with urban growth. Motorways became symbols of economic ‘progress’. Taken together all these things were, and still are, regarded as fundamental to our being a so-called ‘advanced’ society.
With increasing concerns about urban sprawl becoming evident, peak oil now upon us, and climate change rarely out of the news, it is imperative that we take a serious look at alternatives.

Two examples of developments which, in their entirely different ways, were designed to put people before cars are Port Grimaud, on the south coast of France (near Saint-Tropez); and New Ash Green, on the outskirts of London.

Port Grimau - Links & Spaces


Significantly, in each case their architects were also the developers and they run roughly in parallel in terms of conception and initial work (1960s), but New Ash Green took less time to complete. Both projects experienced problems with the planning authorities which took several years to deal with – New Ash Green required ministerial intervention to obtain approval.

Port Grimaud covers 90ha, and includes 2,900 homes (a population of perhaps 8,000 people), a variety of retail outlets, 7km of canals, and 14km of waterfront. The architect and developer was M. Francois Spoerry, and his aim was to build a waterside village designed to relate closely in appearance to the traditional characteristics of the local architecture and urban form, which had evolved over thousands of years. This was applied in particular to the visible elements of group composition, scale, materials and finishes – but also to the movement of people within the development. Consequently vehicles were to be kept out, except for servicing purposes, with parking generally being distributed around the perimeter.

It is without doubt a very beautiful and appealing place. There are plazas, courtyards and a market place; gardens, streets, lanes, waterfront walks, and bridges form linkages which connect everything together.  Cafes, bars, restaurants and shops are plentiful and varied. The scale of everything is entirely human, and although variety and individuality abounds there is a powerful sense of coherence, physically and socially. It was clearly designed from the heart, and is therefore as far from our obsession, in New Zealand, with simplistically conceived, rigid, box-ticking, traffic-focused rules (and the associated lawyer-driven processes), which produce our urban environments as it is possible to imagine.
Unfortunately this development has become a victim of its own success, and its location. Many of the owners come from northern Europe, which means that it is a summer destination for many, and it also attracts large numbers of tourists – also during the summer – which skews social and economic activity. As well, because of the emphasis on boats, there is also a demographic bias.

New Ash Green 1New Ash Green 2

New Ash Green is entirely different in that it was conceived as a relatively self-contained village of low-cost housing for around 5,000 people, set in countryside some 35km from central London. It was intended to show that there could be alternatives to the generally bleak housing estates being built elsewhere, and although most houses were to be privately owned it was planned to include about 400 ‘social’ houses – until a change of government pulled the plug on this (thus bankrupting the developer).   Whilst the surroundings – high on the North Downs – are certainly very pleasant the only close attraction of any significance is Brands Hatch, a race track.

The architect and developer (via Span), Eric Lyons, as with Francois Spoerry, worked from people first, cars second. This led to groups of houses being located next to landscaped walkway links to the village centre, school, and recreation areas. Cars are generally parked or garaged close to, but away from the dwellings, and are concealed partly or completely by what is now very substantial planting. The village centre and school are within easy, safe, and pleasant walking distance from all the houses. The amount of green space is amazing – it’s perfect for children.
Where this development stands out is that it shows the value of comprehensive design and development. As with Port Grimau the entire project was carried out entirely as a singular, unified, environmentally-centred design process with a wide mix of housing types. By contrast, in New Zealand, the design inputs are limited to subdivision, roads, and services – which come first, and which are all controlled by the town planning process – then, tacked-on, notional, landscaping. There is no architecture as such – the most visible residual outcome of this process, the roads and houses, are in effect also designed by planners because of their control of heights, separation from boundaries and set-backs from streets.
Forty years on and New Ash Green has matured, and looks great. But there are a few glitches. Two motorways built nearby have led to reduced use of the shopping centre and it has clearly suffered. Making this worse, the absentee centre owners have paid no attention to maintenance, and this shows; as well, changes have been made which have damaged the original architecture.

There is a railway nearby, but beyond easy walking distance, and there is a bus service. But neither of these can compete with use of personal vehicles so until something changes, such as the cost of motoring, the commercial viability of the shopping centre will remain marginal.

A second problem, a relatively new one, has been the growth of absentee house owners: the so-called buy-to-let investors have moved in. They also neglect maintenance, and have no interest in what their tenants get up to either.
Both New Ash Green and Port Grimau are managed by residents’ committees, and owners are charged an annual fee to cover the costs of this. There are also controls over such things as colours, alterations and additions. Some residents may resent this, but the results are clear: both developments are, albeit in quite different ways, exceptionally attractive, very well maintained, and liveable environments.

Both these developments clearly share a common design ethic. They demonstrate the value of visionary inputs into high quality, comprehensive, and carefully coordinated design processes which recognise our need for human interactions both with each other and with the wider natural environment, as well as our responses to scale, proportion, texture, colour and form.

Contrast this approach to the housing which results from our fractured, leaderless system which reduces design inputs to the absolute legal minimum and we get exactly what we see all around us: visual tedium, sterility, and endlessly cloned oversized roads lined with equally monotonous one type-fits-all houses – each with a wide driveway and a double garage. Recognition of having appealing spaces around us, and of social diversity, or having a pleasant walk to the shops, schools and other amenities?  – forget it: like it or not there is no choice but to jump into your car and drive across town to do these things, and in so doing you will pass through equally soulless surroundings, and end up at a big box retail outfit set in the middle of a gigantic car park and almost never meet anyone you know.
I think there is very clear message behind all this: we can and must do better.


PDF: Clifton After T28-C-brochure-( New Zealand, Roger Buck)

Roger Buck can be reached at

Victory Community


Victory, Nelson is a long established inner city suburb. The Victory Community centre combines a school hall, health centre, recreation and social services. The school started out with a vision that to educate a child the entire family must be involved.

“Victory Village, comprising Victory Community Health Centre and Victory Primary School, is a unique example of a community-based support group achieving positive health, social and educational outcomes.

After evolving from a number of health and social services operating randomly out of school meeting rooms in a disadvantaged area of Nelson, Victory Village and the wider Victory community have gone on to attract national attention for the way in which they respond and relate to their community’s needs and aspirations. This has resulted in a more sustainable community, with more effective service provision and families that are more stable and resilient.

Victory Community Health Centre actively promotes and provides accessible health services and programmes to residents, acting as an information and referral hub for 13 different agencies and groups.” >>>


Post#13_Victory_schoolFor more information:

Post#13_Victory_KindraKindra Douglas,

The Marsden Park master Plan


The Marsden Park master Plan.

John wants to see Nelson attract talented people who have a passion for their work and the lifestyle. He is a developer of a large subdivision in Marsden Valley, Nelson, and I have come to get an idea of what he is trying to achieve.

“Nelson’s industries are the four Fs – Farming, Forestry, Fishing, and Foreigners/Tourists”  He believes his new subdivision will provide high quality housing to attract and retain the talented workers that are important to help regenerate these industries.

View from Marsden Park His new subdivision is in sunny Marsden Valley, close to Richmond and Nelson.  It is a high quality, higher density development that includes sections for single family homes and sections for multi-unit “comprehensive housing” for seniors.

“People will move to Nelson for work”  His development seeks to provide a high quality suburb with rural surrounds.  Quantity has been traded for quality, and he has taken pains to develop a utility and roading infrastructure that will be tidy for many years into the future.

“I just had to accept the idea that as a developer I would be seen as money hungry”  He has taken a large risk by paying for expense of resource consent, surveying, roading, and utilities.  The design had to be carefully considered up front. While a developer might hope for flexibility to change plans midstream to reduce the risk of failure, once a resource consent is obtained, there is little room to move in light of new information or market situations.

And strangely, some ideas generally recognised as good can be received poorly when motives are questioned.  Urban design practice generally recommends higher density living, like smaller lot sizes or multi-unit developments.  And higher density can be more profitable as well for developers.  But for this reason, John feels, plans for higher density living tend to be declined.

John would like to see more testing and advice for developers. “What plants should I have in the swales?” he asks.  He wants to do the right thing, but with so many decisions to make, it is impossible to always know what is the best decision.

I thank John for his tour and leave him to lock the gate.  He is still waiting for someone to begin to build.

Read More:

Residential sections and land for sale at Marsden Park, in Nelson, New Zealand.

Manukau Institute of Technology helps with Sir Edmund Hillary House Rebuild


Students from the School of Construction at Manukau Institute of Technology (MIT) are helping with the rebuilding of Sir Edmund Hillary’s house as part of their entry into this year’s Sustainable Habitat Challenge.

The old homestead is being relocated to Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate in Otara, Auckland, where it will be rebuilt and become the home for the Sir Edmund Hillary Leadership Institute.  The renovated structure will incorporate a number of eco-friendly and sustainable building systems such as rainwater harvesting, double glazing, insulation and solar heating.

MIT students training in construction, electrical, plumbing and landscaping will work on the project that is expected to be completed by mid-2011.

onemana bach


onemana bach

real client, real project, real world

via onemana bach.

This project deeply implements SHAC principles.  Students and young people collaborating and communicating to build a better way.

Innovative features to note:

  1. Off-site build and use of prefab component
  2. Kitchen and wet areas are very close to each other, minimising pipe length and keeping complexity in one place.
  3. Windows are nice but a major source of heat loss, and cost.  Good design has given this batch an open and airy feeling with only moderate use of windows.
  4. Plywood internal lining gives several improvements – better acoustics, some thermal storage, and humidity buffering because of the porous surface
  5. Careful insulation installation – no gaps! – means good performance.  Few wires or pipes are disturbing the outside, insulated walls.
  6. Good choice of durable, long-lasting appliances and furniture

Kiwi Bach Rennovation, $15,000


Sustainability has always been inherent in the typology of the classic Kiwi bach. You design and build it yourself, you reuse found and local materials, and you and your family have a real connection to the place. You also become a kaitiaki or guardian for a piece of our precious coastline. However, with the combined challenges of coastal real estate price rises and the removal of Bachs built on crown land from the 1980s, the true kiwi bach is now certainly an endangered species.

Whats in a name? The name for our SHAC project is derived firstly from the Te Hira Whanau, who through their 93 year old mother/ grandmother / great grandmother hold one of the few remaining live bach leases on Rangitoto Island with the bach identified by its lease number 101. As a tertiary based project ‘Bach 101’ is also a play on ensuring students really came to appreciate bach fundamentals as in this being a foundation bach course.

“We had a fun time upgrading the bach – working in the morning and swimming in the afternoon.”

“And after we left, the family took DIY to heart and added a small solar electric panel to power LED lighting”

Te Hira Bach 101 Fact Box

• The Te Hira BACH101 Team retrofitted a classic kiwi bach on Rangitoto Island
• The Bach is owned by the Te Hira Whanau with a live lease still in place held by 93 year old Minnie Te Hira Te Hira Bach 101 – Rangitoto Island
• The bach was originally built in 1919 and is now only 1 of 11 remaining bachs in the Islington Bay bach community and 1 of 34 remaining bachs on Rangitoto Island
• Number of Bedrooms: 2
• Number of Students:11
• Number of whanau members involved: 14+
• Number of Professionals and Volunteers: 4
• Estimated Cost: 15,000

The Bach retrofits were finished in 2008. Following the 1 week student lead build, family members completed water tank reinstallation, soffit linings and bird proofing and during the summer the family added a photovoltaic solar panel to provide electricity to run efficient LED lights.

The key challenge over the one week build was to manage unforeseen repairs required to the south wall and bedroom floor while trying to maintain progress on the three core areas namely the re roof, re cladding south wall and new composting toilet and generator /energy building.

Seating the Bio-loo composting toilet tank as low as possible into the basalt / lava substrate was a challenge early on in the build with crowbars, sledge hammers and the associated blisters the order of the day!

On discovering rot in the upper wall structure, the team also took the step of replacing all of the bach purlins in order to ensure a minimal 200mm eave. While this took up the best part of a day for four of the team, this intervention was made to minimise the chance of further water ingress and to ensure the longevity of the wall structure.

While all this meant a full on dawn to dusk building schedule we were well pleased to complete all elements to a fully closed in weather proof level in the six day period.

Longer term vision for Bach Sustainability

The Te Hira Whanau Bach 101 represents a beacon of resistance to both the ubiquitous gentrification of kiwi bachs (many claiming bach status but are really urban dwellings located by the sea) and the loss of those built on crown land. With Bach 101, the maintenance of low energy and water use practices and the adoption of appropriate technology solutions like Solar powered LED lighting systems and composting toilets has helped to preserve the essence of Kiwi bach life while enhancing cultural and environmental sustainability.

The opportunity therefore exists for SHaC to help promote more simple, appropriate technology coastal living solutions which seek to maintain, enhance and reclaim sustainable connection to place.

As a bach and not being lived in all year round, the Te Hira Whanau Bach 101 brings with it a unique set of technical criteria associated with this occasional and primarily summer use. While attempting to preserve and enhance the historic and cultural elements of this bach, the team have sought to in all technical criteria as follows:

Energy and indoor environmental quality: When at the bach, the entire family’s lifestyle is low-energy. The bach now has a new insulated south wall and ceiling and low-energy solar photovoltaic powered LED lighting system that replaced less efficient candles, lamps and generator powered electric lighting. Eliminating the need for candles and lamps not only reduces the use of fossil fuels, but helps to ensure the sustainability of the bach and the safety of its occupants through eliminating naked flame lighting.

Outdoor cooking in the ‘cave’ maintains a 60 year whanau tradition where an open fire, enclosed by basalt walls and corrugated iron roof, is used to both cook food and keep whanau members warm in the winter months and on cooler evenings. Insulation to the entire roof and south wall has made a major difference to indoor comfort levels. The temperate climate in the Hauraki gulf means that even in winter it is unlikely a heater will now need to be used.

Energy – transportation. As perhaps the closest Bach community to Auckland’s CBD, Rangitoto Island is very ‘green’ holiday location with bach owners able to catch public transport to the Auckland Ferry terminal (Train or Bus) and then take a 20 minute trip on a Fullers Ferry or Reubens water taxi to the Islington Bay wharf on the eastern side of Rangitoto Island. Then with a 5 minute walk to the Bach, the whanau have used public transport, water transportation (more efficient than land based transport) and avoided 2-4 hours trips to either Northland or Coromandel as the most popular local holiday destinations for Aucklanders.

The Bach was originally built in 1919 from native timbers (mainly kauri) and has wall paper on scrim on kauri sarked walls. The floor has sections of 1930’s lino on original kauri tongue and groove floor boards.

Water: Up until the SHaC build the whanau relied on rainwater collected from the bach roof stored in two water tanks of 2000l and 500l respectively. This water is used for all cooking ands washing with drinking water brought in inside 10l plastic containers. A second hand 2500l water tank has been purchased at the cost of $400.00. This tank will be installed on a basalt outcrop up beside the new toilet and generator structure taking water from this roof and acting as a header tank, the base of which sits 3m above the current bach floor level. In this way the water storage has been doubled and with a significant increase in water pressure from the header tank. For cultural reasons (being drawn from a roof used for toilet facilities) it is likely the water from this tank will be used for showering / washing as opposed to cooking.

Due to the unreliable rainfall in the summer months, water use per person will continue to be severely limited with tank levels monitored regularly. Over the summer months the whanau will assess water issues acknowledging both the increased amount of water storage available as well as the increased water pressure. From this experience water use protocols will be set and water saving measures implemented. Despite this the comparatively small amount of water storage ensures a real water conservation ethic amongst the whanau. This water consciousness also assists with minimising the amount of grey water created.

Materials: The materials used for the above 3 projects have been listed previously however a summary of their origin, durability and renewable / reuseable /recyclable resource nature is listed below:

Timber: Recycled native purlin timber reused for toilet roof purlins. Other sound native timber stored under bach for future projects. Rotten timber burnt in open fire for cooking. New H1.2 pinus radiata framing and purlin timber purchased at discounted
and sourced from renewable NZ forests. Boric treatment will ensure the timber lasts for at least 50 years in the capacities used.

H5 piles for the composting toilet shed are chosen for their durability and again are sourced from renewable pinus radiate NZ forests.

Insulation: Autex greenstuf insulation was chosen as it is locally made (Rosebank Rd, Avondale), low irritant being polyester, is reuseable if ever removed from the bach and was offered to us at a highly discounted rate.

Bioloo: The bioloo tank is designed and molded in New Zealand (Rotorua based) The composting toilet system complies with or are better than New Zealand standards AS/NZS 1546.2.2001 and are made in conjunction with AS/NZS 1547. This means they also meet clauses B1 ( Structure), B2( Durability) , G1 ( Personal hygiene) , G 14 ( Industrial liquid waste) of the New Zealand building code. The commercial size of the Bioloo is designed to acknowledge the realities of summer bach life with up to 40 people using the toilet per day. The commercial Bio-loo composting toilet tank is made from Polyethylene and represents a very durable long term solution to dealing with human waste.

Corrugated Colorsteel: Colorsteel Max is manufactured at Glenbrook south Auckland and made from NZ iron sands. Colorsteel max is designed for coastal climates and is powdercoated to extend its life. The project requires that the bach roof maintain its original look hence the need to match the original corrugated iron profile. The roofing material is the most durable corrugated iron product available and is re-useable and recyclable.

Window and door joinery: Windows and doors for the south wall and toilet / energy shed have been procured from a bunker on nearby Motutapu island. The bunkers were created for artillery shell storage prior to WW2 and have been used since the 1970s for the storage of joinery and furniture items salvaged from the demolition of Rangitoto bachs. The reuse of these items for the Te Hira bach is hence very appropriate with students able to walk 200m to the bunkers to select the items before returning to restore/ repair, paint and install the items.

Team Goals: To Source local, durable materials

The Bach was constructed and retrofitted using many found, recycled and sustainable building materials. 12mm Marine Ply wood was selected for the south wall reclad and new composting toilet enclosure and R3.2 Autex Polyester Batts for wall and roof insulation. The new composting toilet and alternative energy shed was built with H1.2 boric treated radiata pine framing and recycled rimu rafters (removed from the bach 101 eastern lean to roof). The roofing iron for the new toilet / energy shed was also recycled from the eastern lean to roof. The commercial Bio-loo composting toilet tank is made from Polyethylene and represents a very durable long term solution to dealing with human waste.

Waste: Students were required to quantify the waste from all of the materials brought to the island and removed from the bach. Reuse of materials reduces waste. This approach included recycled timber joinery windows (from previously demolished Rangitoto bachs) and recycled corrugated iron for the roof of the toilet and generator shed. All rotten timbers were cut up for dry firewood (to be used for cooking in the cave). All sound timbers of over 600mm were stacked under the bach for later reuse / bach repairs.

The following is a summary of waste issues arising from the Building exercise undertaken to date:

Timber: H5 timber pile off cuts reused as ramp stringers, short piles H1.2 off cuts reused for nogs, anything over 600mm stored under bach for future use, short lengths to be burned in open fire for heating / cooking. All native timber removed from bach recycled or burnt if rotten. Insulation and peat moss packaging: Plastic wrapping disposed of in plastic rubbish bags and returned to mainland. Cardboard boxes: For nails, Bioloo components etc..burned in fire. Empty silicon tubes disposed of in plastic rubbish bags and returned to mainland. Timber pellet reused as landing step for toilet. Dunnage stored under bach for later reuse.

Affordable and Suitable for Purpose:
Built in large part by the family, the bach is inherently well-suited and adaptable. The front and rear lean to sections of the bach were built by the Te Hira whanau and are clad in 1950’s fibrolite with a mixture of recycled timber and aluminium joinery elements.

Supporting a Sustainable Community: Bach life on Rangitoto island is critically endangered. The project is essentially concerned with the social and cultural sustainability of the Te Hira Whanau on the Island. The whanau are one of the last groups to have a living Lessee – Minnie Te Hira who is now 93 years old. The restoration and installation of new systems will hopefully allow for many more generations of the Te Hira whanau to maintain connection to the bach, the remnant Islington Bay community and Rangitoto Island.

Transportation to the Island is by Fullers Ferry or by Rebens Water Taxi’s. 90% of trips to the island are on scheduled runs so very few additional trips are made to the island than those going there anyway. In this way fossil fuel use for transportation to and from the island is minimised.

As a humble dwelling occupied in the summer months virtually full time with occasional weekend stays in the spring, autumn and winter, the bach renovation represents an inexpensive set of interventions to increase comfort and safety levels (ceiling and south
wall insulation plus eliminating naked flame lighting) while providing a high quality environmentally sustainable composting toilet capable of handling high summer loadings.

HERS Rating: Paul Stock was commissioned to give the completed Bach a HERS rating. The HERs rating given was 2 which is consistent with a 1970s habitable dwelling. The fact that the Bach was built in 1919, is not lived in year round and encourages connecting with the outdoor environment (as opposed to a modern cocoon) means that the HERS rating is not as relevant for this project. Heating energy load is 227 x 60 = 13,620MJ annum. As noted by Paul Stock “A limitation of the Accurate program is that it assumes that the house is occupied year round – yet bachs and holiday houses aren’t so the results need to be considered with this in mind.”


With a very concentrated student research, design and construction phase (7 weeks from 20 July to 7 September) we were well pleased with what was achieved following the 6 day build / renovation project. This was especially given challenges of transporting most materials to the island by boat. While we had anticipated a second / follow up construction visit, the positives of not returning was that the whanau took over the remaining core elements themselves, in particular the installation of the storage shed wall,
rainwater plumbing, soffit linings and solar photovoltaic lighting system. Given that true bachs rely on continual owner improvements, this was an important and highly appropriate outcome.

As part of the research and design phase students researched a range of interventions for the bach and presented thesed to the whanau for feedback. While all of the resaearch streams were seen as valuable, several were not pursued either because they were seen as out of keeping with the basic bach experience, were too expensive or presented other potential problems as follows:

Wood stove: Students researched a period reconditioned Wood stove with wetback and while this was seen as a good way to return to an earlier era when there was a functional wood stove operating, the whanau were concerned about the potential for a bach fire, now preferring the outdoor cave cooking with its inherent basalt rock surround as a very safe open fire option.

Photovoltaic power system: Students researched a full photovoltaic power system to be housed in the new composting toilet / generator shed. While this was appealing to some whanau members, on further reflection there was a strong desire to maintain a real basic bach experience similar to that which they had as children – the older generation didn’t want to give the teenagers any opportunity to bring their mobile phones and computer games to the island!

Shower platform: A shower fed by the new water tank (heated by wetback and solar panel) was proposed to be located on a platform with privacy screen to the north wall however, issues of maintaining privacy and a concern for water use ruled this out
with the whanau opting to maintain solar showers as a simple means of controlling water use.

French doors to north wall: A key proposal was to add some french doors to the north wall of the bach to open up the living / dining area. Due to restrictions on alterations to the bach from DOC this intervention was reluictantly abandoned by the whanau.


The key findings of our project team:

Among the many learnings derived from this project, perhaps the over riding finding was that here, environmental sustainability issues were inextricably connected to the less commonly understood issues of cultural sustainability – the sustainabiltiy of the unique Rangitoto bach typology and a whanau connection to the bach and its wider environs. As the only Maori whanau to have a bach on Rangitoto Island what we have tried to faithfully preserve is a unique Maori response to bach living on the island.

Notion of cultural sustainability. This involves connection to place, building of whanau traditions, ability for future generations of the Te Hira Whanau to have an authentic Maori / bach experience. The uniquely Maori dimensions to their bach tenure revolve around outdoor cooking (Kauta), dealing with larger whanau gatherings over summer (up to 40 at some times) and the reliance on kaimoana as a means of feeding the whanau as well as maintaining connection to the marine environment. The Te Hira whaanu take their role as kaitiaki very seriously extending this role to caring for the island, caring for visitors and daytripper in need and as a strong advocacy voice for RIBCA.

Sustainability of the cave / kauta as a Maori cooking and social institution – the only permitted open fire allowed on Rangitoto island – allows for important social / whanau dynamics to be maintained – a place where the ‘problems of the world’ can be solved
on a nightly basis.

Notion of the sustainability of the Rangitoto bach typology – the Rangitoto bach typology is threatenned through Doc desire to rid the island of private bachs, the Rangitoto Island Historic Conservation Trust (RIHCT) which while undertaking valuable restoration work on many of the bachs, is unitentionally locking the bachs in time and removing the organic owner / bach relationship which is embedded in the process of ongoing modifications ie. A bach is never finished – it is an eternal work in progress!

The value of working with the client as opposed to working for the client. Up to 7 whanau members were working with the 10 student team at any given time. Whanau members also catered 3 plus meals a day for the entire team – this enabled 10 hours a day plus to be spent on the building site.

The value of a concentrated build exercise where team dynamics and project momentum can be built to a high level.

Advice for others:
1. Take care to establish strong working relationships with the kaitiaki / whanau / family group
2. Take care to consider what aspects of a bach are essential to preserving its essence
3. Consider wider notions of cultural sustainability, thinking beyond the actual bach
4. In retrofitting, allow for future modifications so the bach may continue to evolve organically over time
5. Ensure the client / family are as closely involved in the build process as possible
6. Allow for design decisions to be made in ’real time’


“A bach hopes to be a permanent structure. It’s occupants only temporary whom come and go constantly evolving over time, then so does their place. The historical concept of contributing some addition to a space with unconsciously realising the connection they’ve established with their unknown future. The bach encompasses a different quality of life
that can be experienced. It signifies solitude freedom and peacefulness.”

Students quotes:
“Taking the project through from initial designing stages, getting quotes, ordering the materials and taking part in the physical build gave this project an exclusive element of reality that we don’t usually get to learn at university.”

“Taking part in this project from start to finish taught me how important the initial meetings and planning stages were during the design stage to ensure that we achieved our goals during the building stage.”

“Meeting with real clients and working alongside real builders on site is the real life experience that we need at university.”

“Living in a historic bach whilst working on Bach101 made me appreciate why the survival of the Rangitoto baches are essential.”

Client quotes:
Ngaire Te Hira (snr)
“My personal view on the project I think the team done a great job and we have good results to show a positive outcome and a big congratulations to the input of the team and those Whanau members who helped out.”

Miriam Scanlan
“Highlights for me personally have been the respect and commitment you have shown to our Whanau especially under the sometimes difficult circumstances. We could not have completed the work ourselves and I am thankful for the opportunity that was given to us to partner with Design Tribe and Unitec on the SHAC Challenge.”

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