Select Page
From the moment we walked on to this property back in December 2018, we knew this was the one!

With visions for an eco-focused house and tiny home visitor accommodation taking shape in my mind over the few years prior, it was an easy decision to purchase and we secured the property within a week of it landing on the market.

The following nine months would be spent creating, adjusting and recreating my own concept designs (allbeit very basic ones) in Photoshop.

Quick disclaimer here… I’m no architect and I have very limited experience in building. But I do understand design principles and have a thirst for knowledge – a huge thanks to all those experienced minds that I have learned from throughout this journey.

The key elements used within every version of my designs were:

  • Views over the truffle trees and capturing the morning sun to the east (to heat the house early in the day)
  • Maximise windows on the north side, using the right angles for winter sun without overheating in the summer
  • Exposed concrete slab to use as a thermal mass (this stores the energy from the sun and keeps the house warm)
  • A mezzanine floor to maximise space in the roof line and benefit from second storey views
  • Minimise corners and joins in the house structure for cost savings and thermal efficiency

Here are two of my early designs which both have all the above elements. In the second design however, I pulled the barn further away from the house to allow for more northern sun in winter.

In Comes Minimal Design

It was the first lift on a sunny powder day in the tiny ski resort of Ohau where Lukas and I first met.

In one 10 minute chairlift we went from never having met to arranging a casual meeting over a cold beer to discuss the project.

I immediately liked what Lukas and Minimal Design stood for. Their point of difference or ethos is to simplify the design, building and maintenance process with thoughtful planning, logical solutions, basic shapes, quality materials and consideration for the environment. Exactly the type of business we wanted to work with!

Lukas and his team were excited to be involved in an environmentally-focused project and eagerly came to check out the property the following week. During the following meetings together, we created the concept design (including my initial “must have” list) based around a number of key materials and processes.

I’m not going to reveal every aspect just yet, but there are three cornerstone features of this design that will shape a lot of what is to come…

Hydronic Underfloor

Super-efficient air-to-water heating systems, designed to keep your concrete slab at a consistent temperature all year round.


Made from hemp, with a little concrete and lime mixed in, this is quite possibly one of the most environmentally-friendly building materials on the planet.

Charred Cladding

A Japanese technique known as Yakisugi (or Shou Sugi Ban), where a timber cladding is sealed through charring techniques to make it last longer.

Concept Plan Renders by Minimal Design

North facing aspect from the middle of the property.
East facing profile showing winter sun.
South facing aspect from the entrance.

Discover more from The Hawea Grove

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading