Solar Decathlon, New Zealand

I thought I would feature a few of my favorite moments from the 2011 Solar Decathlon:

1. First Light: New Zealand’s House

New Zealand finished the competition in 3rd place, and for good reason.  They finished 1st in engineering, 2nd in architecture, and 3rd in market appeal.  Their house was beautifully crafted, consisted of a simple, yet multi-functional floor plan, and a strong connection and flow between interior and exterior spaces.

The design for their home was centered around the concept of the Kiwi bach (for us non Kiwis…it’s pronounced batch).  The bach is a vacation home in New Zealand.  The design features three primary zones in the house which include the living zone, the bedroom zone, and the central kitchen/dining zone with an awesome concrete countertop as the centerpoint of the home.  This zone serves a variety of functions and feeds into the Kiwi bach notion of social space.  The counter becomes the gathering place in the home, from which both the living space and the bedroom space feed into.  It can function as an extension of the kitchen, a dining space, a work space, or simply a space for gathering. Further, this space is flanked on both the north and the south by bi-folding doors and a skylight above to maximize the connection to the outdoors.  Finally, the table is further defined by a custom pendant light fixture above, reminiscent of a boat-like form.

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In the end, it’s a fairly simple plan but just done really well.  The spaces flow nicely from one to the other and the home definitely boasted the best craft in the competition.  The natural wood tones throughout the house create a warm, welcoming environment and work really well with the contrasting concrete surfaces.  Oh…and it didn’t hurt that the Kiwi’s were a great group of teammates and appeared extremely humble throughout the competition.

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