This is our Green Feature and you have a reputation for making green architecture. What can you tell us about that?
Yes we have been designing “Green Architecture” for more than 30 years, long before it became fashionable. For me as an architect sustainability was never the most important quality in our work. The most important is, and always will be, to make good architecture. The way I see it, somehow architecture should lift the spirit of the users, through spatial qualities, light, colours and so on. Also important here are comfortable climatic conditions both for the internal and outdoor spaces. I believe that this can be better achieved through natural rather than mechanical means. For example, a sunny room is more pleasant than a room that never gets the sun. Our houses are generally cooler in summer and warmer in winter compared to the ambient external temperatures. This is achieved through passive solar heating and cooling, such as through design, rather than by auxiliary mechanical means like air-conditioning. Fortunately this results in lower energy use as well, but that was not the prime objective. The extend to which we include these “Green Features” in our designs largely depends on the clients and sites. Passive Solar Design is now part of our DNA as architects so it is always included to a greater or lesser extent in our designs. Examples of such ‘passive solar’ projects are two townhouses in Meadowbank and a large country house in north Waikato.
What exiting projects are you currently working on?
Fortunately I consider most of our projects exiting, regardless of their size. We are always looking for the best solution to the brief. Apart from several alterations and additions we have two new houses under construction, one in Bell Road, Remuera, and one in Kewai Street, Omaha (our fourth Omaha house). In St Heliers we have a new house in the consent stage. We have designed a visitors centre for the newly proposed Cook Islands National Botanic Gardens in Rarotonga. This is possibly one of our most ‘green’ projects to date, where the large roof collects (solar/electric) energy as well as potable water. It also protects the spaces underneath from the often fierce sun and rain. Waste is largely recycled on site and construction materials will be mostly natural and locally sourced. The design is simple and can easily be constructed with locally available skills.
You are based in Remuera. What can you tell us about your practice?
We are a small practice consisting of two architectural staff, one interior/landscape designer (my wife) and myself as the sole principal. I am personally involved in every project. We aim to find the best solution to the conditions shaping each project; brief, site, budget and so on. Every job is different and so is every solution. Although our work is generally contemporary, we do not have a signature architectural style.