Category: Off-Grid


Building contractor: Pine Homes

The house was designed for comfortable beach living, to maximise sea views to the south and out to the bay and point to the southwest, and to allow for maximum penetration of winter sunlight from the north. Horizontal forms and gently sloping mono-pitch roofs resonate with the gently sloping and undulating form of the landscape. To minimise visual impact up from the coast, the major portion of the south façade is shaded, and the colour palette was chosen to blend in with the vegetation and sand.

The house has split levels, which allow it to step down the slope following the contours of the site. Appropriate responses sought to resolve the issues of north light from behind the house, the prevailing winds, and maximising views include covered outdoor deck areas to both the north and the south of the house, and elongating the plan form on an east west axis.

The house is ‘off-grid’ and power is produced by photovoltaic panels, with a battery pack and inverter, and a silent running generator providing backup power should there not be sufficient sunlight for several days. Hot water is heated by means of a Vacuum Tube solar panel, and is circulated by a small pump also powered by a photovoltaic panel. The sewerage has been split into grey and black water and the plan is to recycle the grey water for re-use. Rainwater is harvested from the roof, with all the downpipes leading to horizontal storage tanks fitted below the house.


SA Timber Homes & Projects, Issue 11, 1/2008  House Orban


Tofo, Mozambique

This is also a totally off the grid. An interesting design challenge was intergrating the PV panels into the traditional Mocambican that roof.

The walls were done as an insulated panel covered in ply sheathing, with reflective foil insulation to the outside. This is covered by timber cladding on battens creating an open cavity where warm air can rise up behind of the cladding and out of the wall. The client recently informed me that walking in to the house on a day of 30deg outside felt like walking into a cool air-conditioned space.

Published | Online  awe-inspiring thatched mozambique home is draped in solar panels

Published | Print Media 

Timber IQ Magazine Dec 2012  House Wessels


Contractor: MG Projects

The site is north facing so the house is perfectly orientated to north. Due to the lack of available services on the site the client opted for a totally of grid house. PV panels provide electricity with a backup generator. Water is extracted from a borehole and there is a biolytical sewerage treatment system.

The house is super insulated with double glazing throughout to minimize any load on the PV system in terms of heating or cooling requirements


Technology in Architecture & Design magazine July / August 2012    TIMBER_FEATURE TIA 2012