Waikiki Residence

Sustainable design without compromising the ocean views

We here at Ecohabit love this home! Situated along the coast in the idyllic Waikiki Beach, the home was designed to make the most of solar passive design principles while also taking advantage of the gorgeous ocean views to the west.


West-facing views are always a challenge for an architect. The number one rule of solar passive design is avoid glazing to the east and west elevations of your home to keep out that hot summer sun as it rises and sets. But how do you resist putting large expanses of glazing on a western elevation when you have those fantastic ocean views?

We didn’t!


What we did do was include as much protection to the glazing as possible through awnings and blinds. We also designed the living areas to be constructed by lightweight framing rather than masonry.

The lightweight framing means these areas will cool quickly in the evening, without the need for shading devices that would obstruct the view.

Sustainable features

Double glazing and solar shading devices play an important role in ensuring the home doesn’t become too hot in the summer sun. But another key factor is an old tea tree that provides valuable shading to the front of the home and main living area. It protects the home from the worst of the heat from the setting sun while allowing most of the setting winter sun to bathe the living areas through much of the day. To many people this scraggly looking tree may be detracting, but to our clients it was a reminder of the family home that stood on the site for many decades. Incorporating it into the design now means it’s a living part of the home.

While the northern living areas have been constructed using lightweight framework, the southern sleeping areas have been constructed using double brick. It was important to stabilise the temperature of this part of the home. In winter you need these areas to be warm and in summer they need to be cool in the evening when they are used. The thermal mass of the concrete ground slab and masonry walls does just that, providing a comfortable stable environment.

As you can see, the thought process in designing the bedroom areas of the home is quite different to how we have designed the northern living areas. It’s important to adapt design and construction techniques to suit the building’s location and the occupant’s lifestyle. Too often homes are designed with little consideration for these factors. Choosing designs that are “safe” or have construction methods we deem “the norm” act only to the detriment of our own comfort.

I loved the times that I popped down to see our clients after their home was built. She would be sipping coffee on their deck while her husband was raising crab pots in the bay on the still morning ocean. It feels great to have been a part of their journey in creating the lifestyle they’d always dreamed of…

let’s work together

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