We’ve Got the Look – The what’s what in New Zealand architecture

Trendsetter or trend follower, these days it’s hard to keep up – let alone catchup – with what’s happening on the trends front – be it fashion, lifestyle or home. So, can pinning down a true-blue Kiwi architecture style actually be done? Afterall, we entertained the Bay Villa in the early 1900s, we built the bungalow in the 20s, channelled the art deco in the 30s, state housing came to the fore in the 40s and following the 1950s, we saw a most-modernist swing towards contemporary architecture that embraced the indoor/outdoor flow – influenced by traditional Maori buildings and our Kiwi lifestyle.

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According to judges at last year’s World Architectural festival, today’s Kiwi architecture landscape is more in tune with the environment than ever before. The judges awarded the Best Villa title to a Golden Bay designed ‘Bach with Two Roofs’ Villa – designed by two Nelson architects – saying it represented – “Architecture, not as a frozen expression in time, but as an evolving expression of life. A project with environmental considerations at heart and the stewardship of one of depleting resources, the forest.”

With nature and sustainability leading the way, and an all-embracing attitude towards coupling with our environment, what are a few of the key elements we should look to when designing the Kiwi home for the 21st Century and beyond?

  • Texture and depth to reflect landscapes: Dark Graphite benches – which channel rocky outcrops, tall white gloss cabinetry – to reflect views and hills.
  • Natural timber exterior wall cladding; interior walls lined with plywood – for interesting grains and intricacy.
  • Concrete with a board-formed finish.
  • Floating internal and external staircases.
  • Homes which naturally slide into a surround of native shrubs and trees.
  • Slot windows and skylights.
  • ‘outdoor rooms’ – with extended roofs and wide openings.
  • Paint speak – black remains top of the ranks, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mid-century influences of ‘built in’ furniture – bench seats and bunk beds included.
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When it comes to architecture and designing your home, it shouldn’t be about keeping up with the Jones’, rather staying true to your wants, needs and surrounds. We may have plenty of sheep Down Under, but we’ve never been ones to follow. www.coalesce.nz