Wind-Rain Houses

A drive in any suburb in any New Zealand city will show a plethora of home design reflecting Australian, Californian and European architecture which often ignores our environment and lifestyle.

Nigel Cook combines the kiwi vernacular of corrugated iron with a high-tec, innovative and  creative approach to home design and environment. Homes which create their own micro-climate and allow the owners to enjoy an indoor/outdoor lifestyle no matter what the weather may bring.

Nigel Cook was brought up amongst people who spent time thinking about “who we are” in these islands in the Southern Pacific - architects, novelists, poets, painters - these collective individuals influenced his thoughts and feelings.

His personal philosophy is not to be distracted by separatist or ethnic issues, which tend to be reflected in much of our art, but rather to ignore these issues believing that we are all new comers to these Islands.

The result is the development of a unique and innovative way to create a dwelling. One that derives from an interaction between the environment of our small, safe land and the wider world beyond.

Nigel Cook calls his houses,
“wind-rain” houses because they are designed to handle our unique New Zealand  environment. “We have a life-style that is much the same as Australians and Californians but our climatic differences prevent us from using and enjoying the outdoor lifestyle as they do. They enjoy a steady blue sky climate while ours, although just as warm, is fretted with wind and rain. It has been said that there can be three or four different climates in a single day in this country and that is truest of the most populous areas.”

So Nigel Cook designs houses that  allow us to feel as though we are outside, when we want to be, while protecting us from that wind and rain. This means creating a courtyard that is sheltered by a glass roof under which the homeowner can garden and entertain without the worry of the wind or that irritating sudden shower that so often accompanies outdoor living in New Zealand. He does this by using all the advantages of late 20th century technology as well as incorporating  traditional techniques where applicable.
The climate inside the central courtyard is controlled by computer. Sensors outside monitor the weather and provide information about rain, wind and sunlight to the computer. Inside there are also temperature and humidity gauges attached to the computer which automatically open and close roof vents which control
the warmth and humidity in the house.
Supplementary heating is small and not used a great deal. Some houses in the south have wood burning stoves in the courtyard but most have only an open fire in the living room. In the summer the courtyards are shaded (and heat reflected) by sophisticated, silvered, Swedish shade cloths on mechanically operated horizontal blinds.

Environmental design emphasises the importance of placing the house so that it makes the most of the sun. But to a New Zealander the view is almost as important. We pay considerably more for a house with a view than for the same house without one. The glazed courtyard enables the houses to be sited so that both can be maximised (view and sun) because there is always a heat gathering north wall inside the courtyard even though the house is facing a southern view.
Nigel Cook usually clads the houses with corrugated metal which has been used, in New Zealand, for over a century. It is a product of modern technology that has been so widely used, for so long, that it is now a traditional vernacular. The  recent refinements (use of Zincalume®) make corrugated iron a high quality and durable cladding. All the possible problems have been worked through providing a very stylish look to a house while remaining inexpensive.
The structure of the courtyard is steel which gives a feeling of
lightness with the glass roofs being made as high as budget allows to lessen the sense of enclosure and having a roof overhead.

The living and utility areas of these homes radiate from the central courtyard which becomes the hub of family activities and living. Many of the features such as exposed framing and structural supports all add to the ambience and character of these homes which are designed with the accent on living and lifestyle. People and family. They are not pretentious or ostentatious but utilise all the resources that can be mustered to make them both environmentally functional and a very comfortable place to be. In a word “home”.

Architect: Nigel Cook Architects
P O Box 105 735
Telephone: 09 372 3002
Cell Phone: 027 592 259