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Cornering the home shade

Features | June 1, 2024 | By: Bruce N. Wright, FAIA

Anyone who has spent time on a racing sailboat (and New Zealanders are noted for putting up challengers to the America’s Cup sailing competition, with four wins out of five attempts) knows that a tightly furled sail does not flap uncontrollably. A recent addition to a private home in Queenstown provides comfortable protection from sun and heat.

The shade sail for this residence borrows from its aquatic siblings with a single rotating spar that pulls the two opposite corners of the fabric in on itself to reduce the fabric surface exposure. Essentially, when responding to solar gain, it changes from a fully extended four-corner square of fabric into a tightly wrapped tube perpendicular to the moving fabric wedges.

“Within New Zealand, protection from UV rays is the primary benefit of a fabric structure,” notes the Advanced Textiles Association New Zealand (formerly OFPANZ), “and one that is highly publicized with our depleting ozone.” 

“The client requested a stylish, motorized retractable shade to cover an outdoor seating area,” says SunCraft NZ Ltd., the company that installed the work. “It complements the architectural design and does not have too many external poles at ground level.” 

In fact, it has only one outrigger pole (one corner of the square farthest from the house), and the fabric is attached to the house at the other three corners. All the metal spars are powder coated to match the house window joinery, and the fabric color matches the brownish Corten® steel exterior cladding.

The shade is operated by remote control and synced with a wind sensor that automatically retracts the sails if the ambient wind reaches speeds of 40 km/h (25 mph). SunCraft states that the outrigger “pole can be adjusted in height by a winch that allows the sail to be lowered in synchronization with sun movements throughout the day ensuring shade coverage in the late afternoon.”

Another sustainable aspect of the project is that the outrigger pole is anchored with a ground screw instead of a concrete footing, reducing the carbon footprint and allowing for ease of repositioning the assembly if needed in the future.


Project data

Client: Private residence

Design & installation: SunCraft NZ Ltd.

Fabric: Soliday® Nano, Havana Brown color 

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