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Meridian First Light House

First LightNZ is a group of Victoria University students who have gained entry into the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011.

The Solar Decathlon is a high profile international competition held on the National Mall in Washington DC. Twenty student teams from around the world fiercely compete in the Solar Decathlon to design, build and operate a solar-powered house that is cost effective, energy efficient, and attractive.

These teams spend almost two years creating houses which are put through a series of 10 contests to evaluate their aesthetics and measure their performance during the 21-day event, in September/October of 2011.

The First LightNZ team is led by students and staff from the Victoria School of Architecture in Wellington, they are the only entry from the Southern Hemisphere to ever reach the finals.

The team’s design takes its inspiration from the traditional Kiwi bach; it aims to showcase the New Zealand way of life by placing interactions between people and the outdoors at its heart.

The desire to bring the best of NZ to the world and to represent the Kiwi lifestyle made timber a clear choice.

The house will have timber framed construction, timber cladding and a timber canopy to support the solar panels and provide shade. The versatility, stability and strength of LVL gives the modular design its structural integrity and provides the accuracy needed during on site assembly. A large timber deck surrounds the house which enables integration with the landscape.

The ceiling and wall linings will be made from plywood affording the durability that is required in transit. Decisions are still to be made around the type of wood used for the decking and interior joinery, with the hope to make use of reclaimed wood inside the house. The frame and canopy will be made from a combination of glulam and dressed timber with Cedar used for shading slats and the weatherboards.

The First LightNZ team want their house to be sustainable and energy efficient and to make use of sustainable products in construction. Not only does the look of timber reflect the traditional Kiwi bach but wood is also NZ’s most sustainable raw material.

The house will be split into prefabricated modules which can be constructed within the 7-day time constraint of the competition. Construction of the modules will begin in early 2011 in a covered site in Wellington. The modules will then be transported to a high profile site, hopefully on the Wellington Waterfront, where the team will get the chance to perfect the assembly sequence of the house before the competition. The wooden bach will be displayed in Wellington for the public to view before it is dismantled and shipped to Washington.

NZ Wood would like to acknowledge the generous contributions the following companies have made to help with the success of this project:

Verda New Zealand Ltd – Decking material

McIntosh Timber Laminates – Glulam Beams

EuroCell – Internal T&G