Residential New

Pataua House, Whangarei District

This home is separated into distinct parts for living, sleeping and working. The partially flat and hilly site worked well for designing with passive solar principles in mind.

The living area runs from east-west with the long axis orientated north for excellent thermal gain onto the carefully placed mass walls and floor. With overhangs and window placement designed to allow winter sun in and keep summer sun out, the house is very warm in winter and cool in summer. An open fire allows for winter ambience during long periods of cloudy weather.

Bedrooms face east for morning sun, vibrancy and views whilst the naturally ventilated hall along the west length prevents the bedrooms from overheating in the late afternoon heat. The working studio above the garage has picture windows on three sides for views.

An important aspect of the design was to make the house as ‘eco-friendly’ and non-toxic as possible. A supply of macrocarpa was sourced from the adjacent district for all the exposed beams, rafters, framing and ceiling sarking throughout the dwelling. Locally grown Eucalyptus saligna was selected for the flooring in the bedroom areas. This was oiled and sealed with organic oil and topped with a gloss organic sealer. The eucalyptus and cedar window joinery was oiled.

All cabinetry has been constructed from macrocarpa and pinus radiata, resulting in a house that is free from all customwood and other ‘glue rich’ composite materials.

The exterior has been clad in a mix of cedar weatherboards, plastered block and horizontal profiled metal cladding. The selected colours and natural weathering of the cedar has resulted in an exterior that is very sensitive to its surrounding landscape, blending with its rural setting.

Designed for the architect and her proposed family, the Pataua House was intended to provide for flexible living circumstances well into the future. It had to be user friendly for the small children stage, flexible for teenage years and offer accommodation for extended family and friends who visit. After 15 years of ‘testing’, the house is still performing well to cater for the family’s changing needs, including meeting the needs of very elderly parents with accessibility requirements.

Araroa Studio, Whangarei Heads


Araroa Studio is purpose built for self-contained tourist accommodation. Situated in an elevated remote rural location, with expansive views north along the east coast, the building is a place of retreat.

The footprint of the living spaces is a mere 70 sq m, which includes two double bedrooms, a generous bathroom and a spacious open plan kitchen/dining/living space. There is also 30 sq m of deck area, separated into two zones, each allowing shelter from different wind directions.

Living spaces open out towards the north. This provides high natural light levels, unimpeded views and offers a greater sense of space to the rooms. The overhang to the north is designed to allow low winter sun into the interior whilst hot summer sun is excluded. Careful placement of windows and louvres provide excellent natural ventilation across the living spaces.

Cladding materials are cedar weatherboards and Colorsteel selected for their appearance and low maintenance qualities.  Exterior colours are in the darker range to allow the building to recede into the indigenous bush.

Khandallah House

This project by McKenzie Higham Architecture, Wellington, was a compact new house on a tight rear site on a Wellington hillside. 

Jeff’s role while employed by McKenzie Higham Architecture was as project architect. He was involved in all stages of the project including:

  • Pre-design
  • Concept, preliminary and developed design stages
  • Detailed design and documentation packages
  • Tendering
  • On-site architect for observation of the project
  • Administration of the construction contract