111: Permaculture isn’t Muesli

Andrew Stephenson, Bell Stephenson Architects
Andrew Stephenson, Bell Stephenson Architects

Andrew Stephenson has always seen architecture as a unique opportunity to turn people’s dreams into reality.

Andrew and his family learnt a lot about living well in small places when they lived, travelled and worked together in a luxury bus for 5 years. See their home and some of their adventures at fun4five.com.

Designing, building and living in a bus with a family of five required some clever thinking. Most features in the bus had more than one use, a permaculture principle that Andrew now applies to his architectural work for clients.

The Stephenson's home for five years was no ordinary bus. And the lessons Andrew learnt designing and building it are relevant today for creating stylish, sustainable homes.
The Stephenson’s home for five years was no ordinary bus. And the lessons Andrew learnt designing and building it are relevant today for creating stylish, sustainable homes.

Bell Stephenson Architects

In 2011 Gabrielle Bell and Andrew Stephenson joined forces in Motueka to create Bell Stephenson Architects, where they take pride in integrating ‘eco-architecture’ into all their projects.

Permaculture isn’t Muesli

If the word ‘permaculture’ conjures up images of long-haired hippies and straw bale houses, think again and check out some of the very contemporary, stylish designs in the Bell Stephenson portfolio. As Andrew himself declared, ‘these aren’t muesli houses’.

House on a Hillside, Bell Stephenson Architects
House on a Hillside, Bell Stephenson Architects
Wairoa River Residence, Bell Stephenson Architects
Wairoa River Residence, Bell Stephenson Architects

Permaculture Principles

Starting out as a ‘traditional’ architect, Andrew’s design methodology has been influenced more recently by his study of permaculture. The basis of this is observing and learning from nature and applying principles such as dynamic stability.  This like riding a bike. Movement and change is what keeps you balanced.

Recommendations for a good home

Andrew’s top three recommendations for things to consider if you’re planning a healthy, comfortable, efficient home.

  1. Passive solar design and orientation.
  2. Use the resources on site. The sun, wind and rain are all resources.
  3. Create multi-functioning spaces and features.

During the interview, Andrew gives a great description of the how a wood burner in his own home contributed to a total of six different uses around the house.

The wood stove in Andrew's own permaculture home provides heat for six different functions.
The wood stove in Andrew’s own permaculture home provides heat for six different functions.

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