Stewart Residence

Luxury and Comfort
Passive house design principles – Valley view – Client lifestyle

When we first met Bruce and Bridget, they were happy in their current residence. They had raised their family there and it held many cherished memories. But the home was cold and required a constantly burning fire to keep it warm during the long winter months. So they embarked on a journey to design a new, energy efficient home that lent itself to entertainment, especially around the local racing regatta.

In order to achieve balance between privacy, entertaining areas and energy efficiency, we adopted a linear form. All the habitable spaces face north, capturing sun and the valley views. Passive house design principles were adopted to develop the building envelope with airtight construction, timber joinery and mechanical ventilation unit.


NZIA Western Architecture Award
NZIA Resene Colour Award

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BIM (Building Information Modeling)

We encourage project partners such as design consultants and manufacturers to help us digitally model a building in three dimensions, starting from the ground up. This allows us to have one coherent 3D model that enables us to identify risks within the projects, establish exact quantities of materials, and feed elemental costs back into the model.

We believe BIM is the future of our construction industry and we are constantly evolving and expanding our knowledge base in this field. For most of our projects, we embed detailed architectural, structural and geographical information into our 3D models.


Inspired by our forests, we base our environmental philosophy on a circular economy, where the waste of one process becomes the raw material of another. We haven’t completely achieved this ambition yet, but we strive for it in every project. Through constant application and learning from each project, we are creating a database that takes us closer to our ultimate goal. As part of this commitment, we encourage stakeholders to assess their environmental policies and help us to apply them. In recent years, through continual perseverance and client collaboration, we have completed the first 8 Homestar project in the Manawatu region, with a home that not only embraces its immediate environment, but constantly enhances its surrounding microclimate.

Passive House Design

We aim to design homes that are relevant both now and in the future, using principles of passive house design. The goal is a smarter home that maintains ambient temperature and fresh filtered air, to provide healthy indoor spaces that use minimal energy. This is achieved through superior insulation, balanced ventilation with heat recovery, high performance windows, and air tight enclosures.

The passive house standard is a system-based approach and aims to close the gap between the anticipated and actual performance of a building. Designing homes informed by these principles involves collaboration between the client, the builder and the architect. Success lies in striking the right balance between performance, aesthetics, financial cost and, ultimately, the wellbeing of the end users.


We are shaped not only through our experiences, but also through our social and cultural beliefs. And this in turn influences how we interact with our immediate environment. By integrating these behavioural patterns into spatial designs, we can create a more holistic and more culturally sensitive architecture.

Sun - Wind - Daylight Analysis

We carry out detailed site analysis at the start of our design process. This typically involves understanding legal requirements (district plan rules, NZ building codes, easements), cultural factors (Iwi engagement) and the implications of the surrounding built and natural environment. This information gathering can be time consuming;  however we believe it is an essential part of the process, helping us to create holistic spaces that are responsive to their environment.

Sun-wind-daylight analysis is undertaken as part of the natural environmental study. For the sun we map its winter, spring, summer and autumn patterns on the site to determine where shadows will be cast by relevant site features, including neighboring properties, fences and trees. We also collate wind data, to establish the frequency, direction and speed of wind on-site for an entire calendar year. These studies are based on weather data files obtained from NIWA.

We then utilise our findings to guide our design decisions regarding the form, orientation, shading, landscape and siting of a project.

Daylight analysis is also carried out at the concept stage, to evaluate the quality and quantity of daylight within the interior spaces of the project. This provides a preliminary understanding of whether a space is adequately lit, over lit or in need of artificial lighting during the day. This information allows us to optimise the size and location of all external openings in the building’s envelope.


Before we embark on a journey to create architecture, we analyse spaces through the lens of the end users. We decipher the data that allows us to make more informed and constructive decisions, adopting a ‘design thinking’ philosophy  – a process that places people at the core of the design solution. We want our buildings to tell a story, imprinting themselves on the minds of users through the way they embrace the  environment and engage with the urban fabric.

Virtual Reality

Being able to experience your future home in a virtual environment is an incredible,  immersive experience. A computer-generated virtual environment lets you view and experience the virtual space as though you were in it. We’ve found this helps our clients to make informed decisions on form, materials and the siting of their builds. We also explore virtual reality throughout the project stages, to help us refine our designs, explore spatial qualities and resolve complex construction junctions.


For us, the cost over a building’s life span and its contribution to its occupants’ well-being is what defines a building’s economy. Our focus is on the value money delivers, rather than upfront cost. We view wellbeing as feeling mentally and physically well, with a sense of purpose and a state of comfort.