Architectural design

Energy efficient, warm and comfortable homes


0274 828 030

Energy efficient, warm and comfortable homes
Hamilton | Waikato | Coromandel

Waikato-based Simply Architecture offers inspiration for stunning architectural design

Architectural design for new projects and renovations
Over 20 years experience in eco-friendly home design
Designing with passion and integrity
Simply Architecture is Hamilton-based - servicing the Waikato and Coromandel

Simply Architecture's architectural design portfolio

If you are looking for inspiration for your new build or renovation, browse our selection of New Zealand houses and please contact Simply Architecture to talk about your ideas. Energy efficient home design is our speciality.

From relatively simple new house builds to complex residential architectural renovations to create a more functional and usable living space or update to a more energy efficient home future-proofed against rising power charges, Simply Architecture aims to bring all architectural design projects in to a high standard. You can read more from our other happy clients here.

Andrews House

The Brief

A warm house using passive solar design features to reduce energy costs.
Tony and Leigh were keen to use a wood pellet boiler for the hydronic floor heating.

Passive solar features

A heat sink in the living area - the thicker tiled concrete floor absorbs solar heat and releases it slowly in the evening as the air temperature cools.
All bedrooms and living areas have windows on the north side of the house.
The terrace roof is constructed on high posts to allow winter sun into the house.

Passive ventilation

Living areas and two bedrooms have windows to north and south allowing through-ventilation.
Shading in summer from the terrace roof.


Wood pellets are a by-product of timber framing production.
The wood pellet boiler heats water for the large hot water cylinder which is also connected to a solar roof panel.
The in-slab heating is laid into separate zones with the ability to have zones at different temperatures, or to turn off a zone where not in use.
Effluent system with two chambers and treated grey water is used for irrigation.


Door sills are flush with the floor.
There is manoeuvring space in most bedrooms, the spacious ensuite can be converted.
The deck can be ramped to be flush with the floor with a drain against the house.

"... innovative solutions which we have happily adopted..."

"Throughout the complete design phase Sandra has been careful to understand our desires and requirements in order to put together a package we wanted and most importantly to a budget we could afford. She also offered innovative solutions which we have happily adopted in many cases. The flow and feel of the house is excellent and the significant work on she did on integrating the natural elements of the site with the house design has resulted in a fantastic place to live.

Sandra took great care to ensure the house is thermally efficient and living in Marlborough we thought it important to exploit the sunshine for both summer and winter with the use of solar technology as well as her careful thought in the placement of glass and tiling to create areas of passive heat. Sandra has been very attentive to detail, which we believe has paid great dividends for our project and we would highly recommend her efficient and friendly services."

Tony and Leigh Andrews

Thompson House

The Brief

A house big enough for the three children to bring their families to stay.
A garage for the vehicles and boat, is not to overpower the house in size.
Installation of floor heating water pipes, for future installation of a water heating system.
Installation of ducting for future photo voltaic panels.

Passive solar design features

A heat sink in the family and dining areas - the tiled concrete floor absorbs solar heat and releases it slowly in the evening as the air temperature cools.
All bedrooms have windows on the north side of the house for heat gain during winter months.
The roof overhang is at a high level allowing winter sun onto the tiled floor slab (heat sink).
140mm thick exterior wall framing allows high rated wall insulation.

Passive ventilation

The living areas, and two bedrooms have windows to north and south allowing through-ventilation.
Shading in summer from the 1.2m overhang.
A higher ceiling level and high level windows in the living area prevent heat build-up in summer, although this will take more energy to heat in winter.


A wood pellet fire in the family area.
Allows choice to later select a water heating system which is sustainable and has low running costs for the hydronic floor heating.
Conduits have been installed prior to lining the garage, for the future installation of photovoltaic panels.
Undertile electric floor heating is installed in tiled areas for use when the PV panels are generating power.


Door sills are flush with the floor.
Manoeuvring space in one bedroom and the spacious ensuite.
Ensuite has extra framing for future fitting of handrails.
Wide entry in to the living area and to bedrooms. Paving can easily be ramped at the exterior.

"... competent, professional, friendly, and good to deal with"

" When we first approached Sandra to draw up plans for our new home we had a few ideas in mind on the style of home we wanted. It would have a mono pitch roof, have high ceilings in the lounge and living areas, and attached to the house was to be a garage large enough to accommodate our boat and other vehicles. We gave Sandra an idea on the size of the rooms we wanted, and an idea of the layout we thought would work for us, and left her to design our plan. The plan she drew up was pretty much what we wanted, and we only made minor changes. 

Over all, we found Sandra to be very competent, professional, friendly, and good to deal with. She had a lot of good suggestions and ideas that we probably wouldn't have thought of. We would not hesitate to recommend her services to others. We are very pleased and satisfied with her work, and are really enjoying living in our lovely new home. "
Kevin and Faye Thompson

Beach House

The Brief

The owners’ sketch was drawn up with little change. The structure was to be 250mm wide Firth Hotbloc, to be built by the brick layer owner. 250mm Hotbloc, at the time, satisfied the insulation requirement for solid walls.

The living area is open plan, positioned at the north end of the house, opening onto a deck.

Renovation 1960 House

The Brief

The owners work on a dairy farm and want to extend their 90 m2 house with:
  • A new living space with a kitchen, family room and lounge.
  • The ‘new’ second-hand kitchen positioned with a view of the children’s outdoor and indoor play area.
  • A warm home with improved energy efficiency.
  • A wood-fire cooker with wet-back to heat the water and the hydronic floor heating.
  • A guest entry (separate from the gumboot area).
  • A ramp for a wheelchair-bound relative.


The new living area has large windows north and east, the early morning sun heats the open-plan room and the concrete floor. The concrete floor with water pipes is thicker than usual, and acts as a heat-sink, the heat is released when temperatures drop in the evening. Insulation rates are higher than required by the NZ Building Code. The wood fire is able to be used most of the year to provide ‘free’ hot water, windows are positioned to allow passive ventilation to prevent heat build-up in summer.


The outcome is a warm and low energy-use home. Firewood is sustainably grown on the farm.

Stage work on the existing house will have wall radiators installed, with heated water piped from the new water heating system. Walls will be insulated and relined to improve the heat retention and therefore energy efficiency will be improved for the whole house.

"...had a general idea of what we wanted by Sandra was of great assistance in clarifying our thoughts and giving guidance..."

"In 2010 we asked Sandra to help design an extension to our house. This involved adding a new kitchen, living area, and laundry to the front of the house, as well as adding wardrobes to the master bedroom and extending another bedroom at the back of the house. Our house was originally about 90m2 and with the new additions is now about 180m2.

We had a general idea of what we wanted but Sandra was of great assistance in clarifying our thoughts about what we wanted to achieve as well as giving guidance as to what was possible (both physically and financially). Once we had briefed Sandra on what we wanted she drew up a few different options for us to consider. We chose the one that we liked the best and discussed with Sandra how it could be tweaked to achieve what we wanted. Sandra kept to our brief but also presented some good ideas that we hadn't thought of.

Once the design and layout was decided Sandra drew up the detailed plans and helped to guide us through the technical requirements of our project. Some of the specific problems that applied to our house were:

- We built very close to our septic tank which required deep piles in that area
- Our house is near vineyard frost fighting fans (which can require extra noise insulation)
- Our open plan extension has a normal ceiling with trusses at one end and a sloping ceiling with a beam and rafters at the other, this required an engineer which Sandra organised for us.

Sandra provided all the information needed to apply for our building consent. Overall Sandra was helpful and easy to deal with and answered our queries promptly."

Ian and Julie Buunk

Renovation 1975 House

The Brief

The owners requested to have:
  • Open up to the morning sun.
  • Dining room extension and new entry.
  • Improve warmth and energy efficiency.
  • A second toilet with wash hand basin.
  • Staged work over a few years.


Firstly the garage was hoisted and repositioned onto a new floor slab. This allowed an unimpeded view to the low hills in the east. Double-glazed stacker doors opened to the new timber deck at the east end of the house, providing an alternative outdoor area sheltered from the north-westerlies.

Sub-floor insulation was installed, roof space insulation was up-graded, and the walls were insulated and relined in stages. Double and triple layered curtains provided some insulation to all windows


Directing where the sun is to come into the house can have great benefits - viewing a sunrise, eating breakfast in the sun and the room is warmed. Insulating the house reduces loss of heat, is a minimal cost to perform, and reduces long term energy costs. The power to the hot water cylinder was turned off for most of winter due to the wet-back system. The discharge from the new wood fire met the requirements of the National Environmental Standards for Air Quality. The firewood was from a sustainable source.

Renovation Earth House

The Brief

A bedroom extension with an ensuite and walk-in-wardrobe
A roofed deck
A new office
Improve the warmth of the house
Kitchen renovation

The house is positioned in a valley with limited north aspect, and forestry to the east.


The existing rammed earth house was built in the 1980’s by the present owners using soil from their own farm. At that time walls were required to be 450mm wide. The new extension was designed using NZS 4299 Earth Building not requiring specific design, allowing 300mm wide rammed earth walls. Roof overhangs are required to be 900mm minimum to protect the earth walls, this allows limited sun into in the sun. Sunlight is needed in the house to help warm up the thick walls otherwise the temperatures will remain low. One of the benefits of thermal mass earth walls are the moderating effect they have on temperatures inside the house, temperatures remain fairly stable. Unlike a timber framed house where temperatures fluctuate widely, although the amount of
insulation used will reduce the amount of fluctuation.


The glazed area (French doors) in the new extension is larger than the glazing in the rest of the house. The roof overhang is at a high level to encourage sun into the room. The terrace roof was left unclad to allow time to consider the impact of the design on the inside temperature. The owner feels there is no extra warmth in the new area, possibly due he says, to the large space to be heated, the walk-in-wardrobe has no door.

Note: At the time of this design work some EBANZ (Earth Building Association NZ) members were testing to improve the insulative values of earth bricks, by adding different insulative materials in various quantities.

Renovation Ramsay House

The Brief

A new family room extension and guest entry
Renovate the kitchen and laundry
Separate farm / muddy gear entry


The early 1900’s farm house was structurally sound but need insulating. The later-added leanto’s were leaking, had structural problems and therefore were demolished.


The new extension provides an obvious entry for guests and a sunny living room. The frieze molding has been retained and repeated at the new entry, and matching new timber weatherboard cladding has been used. The farm entry and laundry in relation to the kitchen now function better for the occupants.

"...we were lucky to have your input to lead us to a home that we are really happy with..."

'I can understand why you feel it is the best renovation you have done (it was such a dog).  We love it and get many positive comments from people who knew it before.  Thing is that the use of the space inside and your attention to detail like the size of the freezer and area needed for opening were the things that we really appreciate. The kitchen that you designed will be a blueprint if we look at moving.

We feel we were lucky to have your input to lead us to a home that we are really happy with and has met our needs from family home to empty nesters and beyond."

Cilla Ramsay

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