A Central Auckland Architecture practice has proved that sustainability and style can work together, retro-fitting their 1930s Art Deco property ”Kahurangi” with a photovoltaic electricity generation system, rain water collection and solar water heating.
Niel and Jette de Jong of Heritage Design Group have owned Kahurangi, in Three Kings, Auckland since 1991. Ten years ago, a major renovation saw the house double in size to include offices and a 20-seat cinema on the ground floor, and extended living areas upstairs. Art Deco lighting, furniture and other fittings were also reinstated throughout. “Most people can’t tell where the old parts end and the additions begin,” says Niel de Jong, “which is one of our aims when working with 19th and early 20th Century homes.”
While seamless renovations is one of their specialties, Heritage Design Group have also developed a niche for designing environmentally sustainable new homes, and this has filtered back through to their heritage work. “Many people are interested in making their homes environmentally sustainable, whether they are designing from scratch or renovating, and they often ask us for advice,” say the de Jongs.
In response to this, the pair have once again transformed their heritage landmark, this time into an eco-house. Ten photovoltaic panels concealed inside the roof parapets generate more than enough electricity to power the office, with any excess fed back onto the national grid. “We believe this is the first grid connected solar powered architecture practice in New Zealand,” says Niel de Jong.
Rain water is collected from the roof and stored in two 4,500 litre tanks in the basement. A comprehensive filter system means the water is 100% pure and safe for everything including drinking, even though it is near a busy road. When both tanks are full, they contain enough water to supply the household and office for around two weeks.
A solar hot water cylinder has been installed in an inconspicuous position on the roof at the rear of the house. The existing instantaneous gas water heating system was retained to boost the temperature when required, eliminating the need for electric heating.
“We feel that as an architecture practice promoting sustainability, we should be ‘walking the talk’,” says Jette de Jong, “and the work we have done here is also a personal response to publicity in the media about impending water shortages, power blackouts and price rises. Taking responsibility for our own water and electricity needs makes us feel that, although the problems seem too large, if we all contribute to the solution as individuals it does make a difference.”
Now, “rain or shine, whether we are at home or away, our house is working for us and reducing the burden on our infrastructure,” say the de Jongs, ”without any extra work or major changes to our lifestyle.”
An official launch will be held from 10.30am to 12.30pm on Friday 18 August. This will include a tour of the house; brief addresses by the owners and the Hon. Jeannette Fitzsimons, Government spokesperson for Energy Efficiency and Conservation; and a light lunch. For catering and seating purposes, please phone or email to confirm your attendance.
For more information, contact Niel or Jette de Jong:
Phone – 09 620-1939
Email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Web – www.hdg.co.nz