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Glass Walls and Clever Energy-Reducing Ideas: Dulieu Residence in New Zealand

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In developing this project, the architects at practice Studio MWA started from the characteristics of the site, a lovely nature retreat near Wellington, New Zealand. The butterfly shape was “adopted” by the project team while panning Dulieu Residence, a three bedroom family home. The architects explain: “Together with the client a brief was developed, but from the start it was obvious that a simple single story design using natural materials, quality orientation to capture sun to take advantage of passive solar energy heating, rainwater and spring water collection, environmentally responsible sewer treatment, with a sustainable approach was ideal. The final house is easy to live in, with indoor-outdoor flow, low maintenance, but the openness and simplicity are the main characteristics of this design. To create a residential project which has nearly 70% of exterior walls in glass is always very challenging in order to follow the standards and requirements, but we achieved all that and even more.” Impressed?

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Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.

What is new and exciting now can quickly begin to look tired and out of fashion, so the best buildings don’t just consider what will be interesting to look at now, but also how it might look to people in five, fifty or even a hundred years’ time. 2013’s hotly contested RIBA Stirling Prize went to Witherford Watson Mann Architects for their work on Astley Castle, Warwickshire. In what RIBA Past President Stephen Hodder has described as an extreme retrofit, the project essentially saw a new building inserted subtly into the heart of the old, with a new, two storey residence now hidden within the sandstone walls of the ruins of this medieval castle, to be used as a holiday home for up to eight guests

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