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Our architect Roger Walker often refers to the house he grew up in Hamilton. The only room that got any sun was the toilet and people would spend extended lengths of time in there reading. Roger’s bitter-sweet recollection is a reminder of how important it is to design a home with the sun in mind.

You might think we live in a small country and that sunrise and sunset angles are uniform all over New Zealand. However, the variance in angles from Northland to Southland is substantial. Without getting too technical, the sun rises and sets in different locations relative to your position and also has a different height in the sky. So, on a clear day and at the same time, the sun in Auckland and Invercargill will not appear in the same place.

The relative position of the sun has a massive bearing on where we place a house on a site. Even rotating a house by just a few degrees can change the feeling and experience of the whole place. Ideally, we design a home so the kitchen receives more of the morning sun, with living spaces facing north to trap as much of the sun’s heat as possible throughout the day, with the bedrooms being more western facing to capture the evening sun. This leaves the garage/laundry and bathrooms on the south side of the house.

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This on-site placement is hardly a modern phenomenon. Roman architects were well aware of the sun’s location and paths, and designed and sited their buildings accordingly. So, it is a bit puzzling how today’s designers often misunderstand this concept. The final orientation and angle, as explained above, can be calculated by trigonometry, or there are multiple programs which can work all this out automatically. No matter how it’s done, the sun should always be top of mind when designing a home. It’s certainly on the top of ours.

 

We factor in the different angles and heights of the sun right from the start of the design process. This lets us create a warm and light-filled interior environment that offers you more than just a pleasant place to live. It can also reduce energy bills by using the free energy of the sun. They don’t tax us for it, yet. So, make the most of it. Get in touch and let’s talk about a home that chases, and catches, the sun.