If you were to ask Katrina Ward advice on how to use recycled materials
to build a home she would reply "Collect your materials first – before engaging an architect".
Her Ararimu home was a two-year project that evolved slowly. Old,
recycled materials kept arriving. And Katrina's ideas kept coming.
In a couple of instances, the team needed to pro-actively look for materials to complete phases of the building. Progress was often dictated by what materials were on hand. Timber of various kinds, recycled bricks and a multitude of other salvaged materials were incorporated into the design and construction.
It wasn't easy finding a builder with the right attitude. Using recycled materials often means finding new ways to integrate non-standard forms. Plastering around windows to clad recycled brick on the house exterior was just one example.
"You learn from the start you want someone who is pretty pro-active in sorting out the problems" says Katrina.
Architect Jann Hurley adds "We were often constrained by the nature of the materials, like the length of the recycled timber beams – which dictated the size of rooms". Communication between the architect, the builder and the client were critical to make the project succeed. The builder, Ali Stanton says it was one of the best projects he has ever worked on.
The local council provided a few challenges along the way – navigating regulations conceived for modern rather than recycled materials was difficult at times. Testing the strength of salvaged bricks was just one issue. But a dose of common sense meant obstacles were overcome safely and aligned with compliance requirements.
The finished home showcases a number of Katrina's creative ideas. A feature wall in the main living area uses an array of salvaged bricks from many different demolition jobs, all collected over time. They feature names of the original manufacturer – or in some cases they merely have a batch number inscribed by hand, or fingerprints – the methods used in the days before brands. "Creating this feature was my idea" she says. The result is stunning and makes interesting dinner conversation.
Much inspiration came from a family holiday in the South Island – having taken in a number of interesting and historical sights on the way. "It's like time stands still down there" she says.
The house also features other collectable items; wrought iron plaques, an antique copper heating system and notably, a set of scales salvaged from the former Bank of New Zealand Head Office basement – likely to have been used for weighing coins. An eclectic mix of old and new features make the design of Katrina's home a visual delight. Everything has a story, even the doors to the family room – which were once used to house prisoners at the original Papakura Army facility.
The garden itself is still an area of hard labour, featuring rocks retrieved from the old Mt. Eden quarry – hand-chipped into shape by prisoners past. Other rocks were originally used as ballast in settlers sailing ships. A pergola made of hardwood (salvaged from the demolition of boat lockers on Tamaki Drive) stands proudly next to the games room, waiting for the next stage of development.
Katrina and Jann are now working on a pool house, which will feature
changing rooms and a barbecue area. And what will it be made of?
Recycled power poles of course.