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Writer's Residence Ruakokoputuna

In his brief, the client asked that this project be designed specifically to address the needs of a full time writer with the basic amenities required to live but, above all, providing a quality of space, comfort and outlook. He wanted to use local farm buildings as a reference point for the design.

The resultant building consists of one voluminous space glazed at each end. Into this is inserted a sleeping loft, an enclosed reading area, a kitchen, an ablution block and, most importantly, a contemplative space at each end for writing.

The house is constructed almost entirely from timber. Glue laminated pine portals at 4 metre centres provide the underlying structure with double glazed windows and macrocarpa boards completing the exterior cladding. A polished concrete floor stores heat energy from the sun during the day and re-radiates the warmth at night. Internal reverberation noise is attenuated using macrocarpa and cedar timber slats over shade cloth with sound insulation in the internal wall cavities. Considerable effort went into detailing the timber to give a robust, low maintenance and functional living environment. Generally the timber has been left in it’s natural state to weather gracefully on the outside and to embellish the interior with the smell of cedar and macrocarpa sawn boards.

The prohibitive cost of connecting the property to the existing electrical supply meant that the house is “off grid”. Consequently a lot of thought went into siting the dwelling to optimise natural light and sunshine for heating and electricity generation. A bank of eight photovoltaic panels mounted on a tower orientated North at a slope of 42 degrees ensures a consistent electrical supply in spring, summer and autumn. Supplementary energy in the winter months is obtained from a micro-hydro electricity generator located on a stream nearby.

Hot water is supplied by solar hot water heating panels mounted on the same tower as the PV panels and a wetback connected to a wood burner. Fresh water is collected off the roof and stored in a 22,000 litre water storage tank and pumped up to a 500 litre header tank again mounted in the tower to ensure good water pressure to the household appliances and fittings.

The design is entirely focussed on providing for the needs of a writer. Every aspect of the design revolves around this function in a way that a joiner’s workshop or a captain’s bridge would. It fully supports the business of writing and should be considered as an essential component to the Client’s livelihood as a professional writer.

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