The client’s desire for both floors of this Auckland house to receive passive solar gain through a two-storey glazed facade was solved with an excavated north-facing courtyard. This was made necessary by the land falling steeply in the opposite direction – south – which offered a panoramic view of Manakau Harbour.
The lower floor walls and slabs are masonry. This allows the solar heat that is harvested in the ‘trombe hall’ to be retained within the well-insulated structure. This heat is circulated throughout the house via concealed ducting using the Soho Ventpac WinSum system. This automatically transfers warm air in winter, when the ‘trombe hall’ temperatures exceed the set point, preventing overheating in summer by opening windows at a preset temperature.
Once complete, the living room of the house will contribute to the ducted air circuit and on cold nights lounge fireplace heat will be shared with the bedrooms wing. A feature of Soho Ventpac systems is that over the course of 12 months from house completion (or installation in an existing house) any mould and/or condensation from construction moisture or human activity that might linger in bedrooms and other cooler spaces is eliminated. Humidity will stabilise at around a healthy 50% RH throughout the Hillsborough house soon after it is completed.