Kiwi bach heading to Washington DC
27 Apr 2010
A New Zealand architectural icon - the humble Kiwi bach - is destined to become a White House near-neighbour next year, as part of an international competition for sustainable architecture.
The one-bedroom house - designed by four student architects from Wellington’s Victoria University - will make its northern hemisphere appearance in the finals of a prestigious US Department of Energy competition promoting energy efficiency.
Competing against 19 other international teams in the Solar Decathlon, the New Zealanders will be required to design and build an attractive, energy-efficient solar-powered home for less than US$250,000.
Team member Nick Officer, of Wellington, said they would travel to Washington DC in October 2011 to build the bach prototype on the National Mall, not far from the White House.
"It’s a 21st century reinterpretation of the Kiwi bach," Officer said.
This is the first time a southern hemisphere entry has been selected for the competition finals, and the team is confident that the 60 square-metre home will win the competition.
There is no prize money attached to the Solar Decathlon, but the 20 teams will each receive $140,000 towards building their competition houses.
The competition focuses on innovative use of existing technology - rather than new technologies - to build an energy-efficient home that can be easily reproduced commercially.
Competing teams design and build a house, then operate it for three weeks.
More than 307,000 visitors viewed the houses created in the 2009 contest.
Native timber bach
The Victoria University team have kept costs down on their modified bach by using native New Zealand timber, and solar panels made from organic materials.
Nick Officer says the home is different from most American homes.
"We’re trying to find a balance between how Americans love to live, inside with the air conditioning on - and how [Kiwis] live, we open the windows when it’s hot."
Background: Kiwi bach
The Kiwi bach (pronounced ‘batch’) is a New Zealand holiday home. In southern areas of New Zealand, the bach is known as a crib.
Traditionally the Kiwi bach was a small, modest dwelling found at beaches and remote holiday destinations. The most basic edifice had no electricity, running water or indoor toilet.
Even with all the mod-cons, contemproary Kiwi holiday homes are still referred to as ‘the bach’.
The NZ Department of Conservation (DOC) estimates that there are more than 50,000 baches dotted around the country. A reconstruction of a typical 1950s bach can be found in the National Maritime Museum, on the central Auckland waterfront.
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