Meridian First Light house takes visitors on unique landscape journey

The Meridian First Light house is Victoria University’s entry into the US Department of Energy Solar Decathlon 2011 which takes place in Washington DC in September and October 2011.

The team is the first finalist ever from the Southern Hemisphere in the prestigious and highly anticipated international competition.

The Solar Decathlon competition challenges university teams from around the world to design, build and operate solar-powered houses that are cost-effective, energy-efficient and attractive.

The landscape surrounding the Meridian First Light house aims to take visitors on a journey through the changing landscapes of New Zealand.

Starting at the beach, they travel through coastal shrub lands and bush right up into the mountains.

Creating the landscape design for a house to be transported half way around the world presented unique challenges. The house including decking and planting needs to be assembled in less than seven days in the US and the landscaping cannot penetrate the ground.

The team from Verda helped out to find solutions to create the outdoor environment using decking and planter boxes. Decking runs around the house and through its centre bringing a sense of the outdoors inside the house. The decking was constructed into prefabricated sections which are assembled together on top of scaffolding.

The house was assembled on Wellington’s waterfront and opened up for tours during May this year. The practice run for the US was a huge success attracting over 20,000 people through the house during the 18 day opening period.

Having two different assembly locations meant sourcing two sets of plants. New Zealand native plants were used for the house opening in Wellington while the planting for the US is still being planned.

It’s possible that New Zealand natives or similar species may need to be sourced from California and be transported to Washington DC for the competition.

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