Our previous blog tells how Kamermans Architects has been successfully applying Passive Solar Design for more than three decades. It shows a cross section diagram of a two storey 3 bedroom townhouse (my own) on a 350 m2 urban site.

Today client of ours tells you about their single storey, North Waikato, farm house, we designed for them 15 years ago;

Our beautiful home in North Waikato was a joy to live in and work from, in so many ways. Cool (but not cold) in summer and warm in winter, and naturally lit all seasons. We had asked Frans to include an underfloor heating system, a water system supported by solar power. In fact, we very rarely ever used it as our home stayed naturally warm over winter. If I was to build again I would look to an underfloor heating system only in the bathroom areas. And in summer, our home never “overheated”; the natural airflow gave us an easy freedom to manage temperature. Having spent many years residing in villas and bungalows where you boil in the summer and freeze in the winter the experience of living in Frans’ creation has been a welcome mind set change for me, including the reduction in winter power bills.

The four principles behind the Passive Solar Design are deceptively simple (refer to diagram previous blog in this series):

  • 1  Optimum solar access: Put the windows in the right place; predominantly North, then East, then West and minimal on the South.
  • 2  Thermal mass: Provide thermal mass that acts as a “heatsink” in winter and a ‘cool sink’ in summer.
  • 3  Natural ventilation: Provide opening windows to each room allowing minimal secure ventilation all year round. Warm air rises along the sloping ceiling to escape through high level windows above the ranch sliders (see cross section diagram).
  • 4  Optimum insulation: The insulation helps keep the house warm in the winter and cool in the summer. All windows have double glazing and are mostly on the Northern side. The East, West and South walls have maximum insulation in the wall framing.

So what is the difference between Passive Solar Design and “standard” construction?
The answer is intelligent design. The construction components (floors, walls, roofs, windows & doors etc.) do not need to cost more than “standard” construction. The difference is in how they are put together in the overall DESIGN.

“Outdoor room” looking out over the Waikato landscape.

“Verandah” along the living spaces becomes an “outdoor room”


I hope the above will be useful to you, particularly if you are planning to invest in a new house. Feel free to contact me. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.