Otago’s engineers and designers, who have been working on affordable and efficient housing for decades, believe they offer a solution to the New Zealand housing crisis.
Modular homes in Australia’s Outback inspired Ecohex Design’s Bruce Partridge. He suggests that such a unit provides the flexibility to build the size that people in the house want.
The meticulous hexagonal design of Dunedin engineers uses a construction system that he says is cheap, fast, affordable and easy to duplicate.
Our design is probably the most stable and strongest you can build. “
These six-sided forms are powerful, and clustering modules means that different ages can live together.
“The beauty of the hexagon is that it gives one-third extra floor space for an outer wall of the same length,” he gives mathematical evidence of this.
Bruce, a 120-square-meter two-bedroom house built in Chertsey, Canterbury, introduces his construction system.
Designed with steel joints, made of structural grade veneer laminates and beams, the wood frame provides a light and stable frame that does not twist or bend.
The walls and roof are not structural and are filled with insulation panels. Technology has advanced and Bruce is now using refractory polyisocyanurate (PIR) foam panels, which have twice the insulation value of polystyrene.
His ideas contribute to the popular little homes that the Skillsec Training Center is building and help increase demand.
Bruce admits that finding land is a problem for those entering the housing market, but by diverting materials and using the owner’s workforce, his design cuts construction costs. Is called.
“This is the only way young people can get started and do things themselves.”
Started in the 1970s
Bruce began designing homes in the 1970s, and at the age of 21, he built a double-decker home in Waitati for a young family.
After he and his wife Jean purchased land on the Otago Peninsula, he rebuilt the cottage using recycled materials, and the family lived there for about 12 years.
In 2000, Bruce built a new home there and recycled used demolition materials, including Canadian Oregon Pine, for windows, beams and fittings.
His Spanish-influenced double-decker house has large bay windows and extra space and seats in the room.
When Jean took up a nursing job at a clinic in the hinterland of Australia, Bruce worked there as a management assistant, touching on the locals and their thoughts.
Aboriginal elders ran this telemedicine center in the Utopian region of the Northern Territories. With long-term care facilities being built, Bruce gained knowledge as he managed the installation of off-the-grid solar energy systems with contractors.
In my spare time, I learned to do 3D computer-aided design on my own.
“In 2010, we returned to Dunedin. We knew that affordable homes had a future. Young people struggled and home prices were rising.”
The desire to help others
Bruce met the Central Otago peasants Norm and Reisalous. They later became owners / administrators of Dunedin’s Skillsec Training Center.
They were keen to help others, including funding. Trio rented a warehouse to prototype the first hexagonal building.
The floor area of a single module is 42 square meters and the diameter is 8 m. It can accommodate one or two people and can be divided into open plans or small rooms.
The module can be used for smart housing, individual apartments, offices, retirees or extended family units.
The 2006 Chertsey home has double-glazed windows and doors with UVPC frames that do not allow heat passage from the inside to the outside, preventing condensation.
A passive solar insulation base with hot water heating coils allows residents to choose which room to heat.
The house is so well insulated that no fire is needed. “
At that time, people would not have considered using stanchion and beam structures in large buildings. However, in 2018, Otago Polytechnic opened a student accommodation with a laminated wooden frame.
Bruce played no role in this, but says it reflects growing interest in using laminated wood for larger buildings rather than steel.
For those who are interested in affordable housing, he recommends reading Human house By Tony Watkins.
The book states that such homes are always built by the owner. Because few can afford to pay someone to do all the physical work and organization.
On the other hand, according to the book, commercial builders cannot afford to build affordable homes due to labor costs.
“That’s the key to everything,” says Bruce.
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