An old milking shed in Bank’s Peninsula is repurposed into a high-performance, thermally efficient home that embraces its historic context to showcase rustic original character.
The overall brief was to provide a comfortable three-bedroom home in a lovely rural setting of natural bush. Architectural designer Pete Hodge of Walker Architecture says, right from the start, the clients gave clear direction that they wanted a high performing, thermally efficient home. That was key to the whole project. They also wanted to reuse elements as much as possible. That sustainable approach to living was very much part of their ethos.
“They were very clued up on it. Their existing house, an old farmhouse on the same property, was far from thermally efficient.”
Pete explains the client had a clear vision anchored in a romantic attachment to the old milking shed. Their aim was to fully embrace that historic context by exposing the concrete structure of the building.
“In effect, a thermal layer was wrapped around the perimeter of the existing concrete structure. All the history was exposed internally; within the kitchen, bedrooms and bathrooms. It pops up as a reminder of what it used to be.”
The clients were adamant they didn’t want a modern building that had no relationship with the adjacent farm buildings. The narrative was to explore that connection with the other buildings on the site. Pete selected metal cladding for the external walls and roof, which also satisfied the requirement for low maintenance. The massing of the home is a simple ‘L-shaped’, gabled rural form, dressed in a limited palette to maintain an historical connectivity and a connection to the wider context of the rural environment.
The original building was stripped back to reveal the concrete skeleton. Although the concrete was cleaned and patched, it still bears the marks of age. “They didn’t want anything covered up,” explains Pete.
The entrance lobby separates the big, open versatile living space from the bedrooms and bathrooms. Pete also added a generous garage and storage area adjacent to the primary living volume.
The interior palette is purposefully restrained. Concrete floors add to the thermal mass; ply acoustic ceiling panels combine with the GIB painted walls to add softness against the exposed rough concrete .
Initially, the clients had a romantic notion for the need of a large log burner. Pete assured them (over time) they wouldn’t need it.
“The clients had never lived in a high-performing house before so it was hard for them to conceive that a log burner would not be unnecessary.” In the end, a small burner was installed just for aesthetics!
The concrete slab has a fully insulated perimeter—where the majority of floor heat loss occurs. A layer of PIR insulation board seamlessly wraps around the entire house under the exterior wall cladding. Coupled with a Dimond Tricore roofing system, the insulation layer is continuous around the building’s exterior. There is absolutely no heat loss. The home does not rely on any heating or cooling, minimising running costs.
All door and window joinery is double glazed and thermally broken. Unlike typical New Zealand construction practice, doors and windows sit in line with the insulation layer removing any opportunity of heat loss.
For Pete, it’s the internal ambience of the home that is the greatest achievement.
“For guests, it’s a bit of a mind twister. How can a constant internal temperature be achieved without any mechanical intervention? In terms of performance, it has exceeded the clients’ expectations. They are able to have a flexible open-plan area with a beautiful connection to the landscape. They’re completely immersed within the surroundings—they even have a pheasant, who comes and taps on the windows asking for food and company.”
Rural simplicity at its very best.
Photography by Clinton Lloyd Photographer
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