The decking runs around the house and also through the center, allowing occupants to effectively live outside during summer and enjoy a sense of the outdoors during winter.

The decking runs around the house and also through the center, allowing occupants to effectively live outside during summer and enjoy a sense of the outdoors during winter.

Credit: Ian Allen

Victoria students derived inspiration from the traditional New Zealand holiday home—the “Kiwi bach”—to design their entry. Called First Light, the long, elegant shelter embodies a relaxed lifestyle in which connecting with the outdoors is central to living. “We love our landscape and spend a lot of time in it,” says master’s student Nick Officer. The decking not only runs around the house but also through the center, allowing occupants to effectively live outside during summer and enjoy a sense of the outdoors during winter.

“We came in first in engineering, and I think a lot of it had to do with how we approached our drying contest,” Officer says. Each team was challenged to wash and dry six towels using self-generated energy. The New Zealand team devised an innovative drying cupboard that used solar-heated hot water. The team kept costs down by using three layers of recycled wool carpets stapled into timber frames as insulation instead of fiberglass. “It speaks to a do-it-yourself mentality, which is something New Zealanders are quite famous for,” Officer adds. “There’s an old phrase that New Zealanders can do anything with a piece of No. 8 wire. It’s about using something very simple to do a range of tasks.”

Estimated cost: $303,467.92