Great Barrier Island Eco Architectural Gem
Off the coast of New Zealand, there are several very isolated islands that have no mains electricity. The very few residents eking out a living from farming or tourism here on the Great Barrier Island, live in the same way that people did decades ago – they have long collected rainwater, for example – but now they also use solar to power their simple houses.
So this very elemental beach bach designed by Herbst Architects is designed as a green home, by absolute necessity on this island, not to meet an eco trend. There is no choice. Solar panels supply electricity. Large rainwater tanks for storing rainwater are buried underneath the house.
Stones were gathered from the site and contained in this Gabion Wall (a kind of stone wall which is held in place with wire mesh encircling the stones – so it needs no mortar). But it is a thermal sink. It collects radiant heat from the day’s sunshine through the glass roof, and then dissipates that heat to warm the diners each night.
A simple wood stove fueled by wood gathered on the island gives a cozy warmth to read by at night.
Herbst Architects in nearby Auckland designs a lot of clean basic holiday houses like this. Elegantly simple and respectful of the island surroundings. For such a small country (there’s only 4 million residents) there is a much higher percentage of architecture designed by architects than in the US.
Photos Patrick Reynolds