Down to earth design

Down to earth design add

Sustainability is more than just a fad, it is becoming firmly steeped in our consciousness countering the devil-may-care attitude towards our environment of times gone by. Notwithstanding this fact, there is still significant work to do be done for it to become a way of life. Designers/builders like Brenton Stockman of Gaia Construction are leading the charge.

For Brenton, there is no fixation on what’s de rigueur; his motive is purely about smarter living that is kinder to Mother Nature. “Consumerism is so promoted. We have all this space - pointless space - that we have to buy things to fill up. With conventional construction, it’s just bins and bins of rubbish when there doesn’t need to be.”

A firm believer that living simpler with less actually gives you more to live for, Brenton argues that humanity has become so disconnected from nature that our reclusive existence indoors has led to more illness and unhealthier lives.

“The fact we bite off more than we can chew with our homes often means we are saddled with debt and limited in being able to experience all our existence has to offer. If we don’t have to spend five days a week working to pay a mortgage on a big house, we can take more time to enjoy life.”

This premise informs the basis of Brenton’s approach to designing and building, a down-to-earth approach, quite literally. “Since I started building earth houses, using papatuanuku as the main construction material, I've realised how disconnected we are from our Mother Earth.

“I discovered that tiny houses make a great stepping stone to earth houses, by having something on wheels you can really get a feel for the land that you're potentially going to spend the rest of your life living on before committing to where you want to build your dream home.”

Brenton’s commitment to smarter more sustainable living extends to the materials he uses. “Through earth building, I've learnt to use non-toxic materials like untreated timber. In New Zealand, our standard building grade pine is quite toxic and so are a lot of other materials used in conventional construction."

"At the beginning of my apprenticeship, I didn’t feel good at the end of the day being exposed to all the toxicity. When I started earth building, I felt the energy of the raw and natural materials I was using. It was enlightening. So I use what I've learnt building earth houses and incorporate it into the tiny houses I build, and I firmly believe that smaller healthier homes will pave the way for a more sustainable future where we can learn to live in harmony with our mother earth."

To learn more about Brenton Stockman and his views on ‘tiny homes: a pathway for revolution’, register now for the ADNZ National Conference in Rotorua, running from 25-27 October. The conference is also open to non-ADNZ members and the general public.

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