Our initial plans to develop a sustainable Eco B & B were very much more modest than our current venture and have undergone a number of transformations along the way. As our knowledge and confidence with off-grid living grew, we realised that it would be possible to create something unique that would offer people the experience of green design and building without any compromise in comfort or style.
We chose to team up with Auckland based architect, Cameron Pollock, having worked with him on a previous villa renovation in Auckland and being familiar with other projects he had undertaken. Perhaps most importantly, the fact that he is an old friend meant that we could work in a much more collaborative way than you might otherwise expect. The process began with Cam making a visit to the site, followed by dinner and a few glasses of wine. Over dinner we threw various ideas about and made rough sketches. The following morning these ideas crystallised and the notion of a design based on a leaf resting gently on the ground became the crux of the design. Cam’s initial concept drawings were incredibly close to the mark and the process was one of refinement from that point on.
To say that the site is not an easy one to work with is something of an understatement. Even choosing the eventual position and orientation of the building was fraught with hazards (on a 40 degree slope with no street access and covered in gorse and manuka). At one point Steve was precariously balanced up a cabbage tree trying to figure out the best view….. We got there in the end though.
Then came the challenge of incorporating as many sustainable building processes as possible. This involved a huge amount of research and learning. Wherever possible we have sourced both materials and labour locally from the Northland region or from within New Zealand. The details of what we have managed to achieve in this regard are outlined on our ‘Sustainability Credentials’ page.
There was an incredible amount of red tape to be dealt with before our consents were issued, and various delays along the way. Frustratingly, this meant that what had been planned as a summer build, beginning in January 2011, didn’t get underway until March 2011 and therefore became a winter build, complete with mud, storms and numerous days ‘rained off’.