This study analyses the costs associated with housing development in New Zeaaland, and demonstraes how the present economic model of housing development will contiue to fail to address the chronic unavailability of affordable, warm, healthy housing. In place of the existing model of economic development it proposes an alternative model - one that ddresses not just the issue of housing, but also the related issues of employment, educaion, health and social well-being.
To download the PDF click here.
For a more extended (global) analysis click here.
Housing settlements and economics Catastrophes (Insurance Claims)
We may be witnessing the beginning of the end of Free Market Global Capitalism. The ideological mantra of continual economic growth upon which the entire capitalist system is based is in serious question. The ongoing and apparently unsolvable fiscal crises in Europe and the United States should alert us to the fact that something fundamental is happening to our taken-for-granted (but basically flawed) economic beliefs. It seems to have eluded the financial gurus and capitalists that everlasting growth in an environment of finite resources is an impossibility. Sooner or later those resources will be used up and the growth that they have made possible must come to an end.
To Download the PDF click here
Click on image to download the PDF
Existing models and practices of community and economic development are failing to meet the real needs of the community, and the most vulnerable citizens are not being adequately supported. These common and acceted models and processes of community development - based as they are on the provision of infrastructure systems and incentives to attract commercial and residential development are no longer viable. They are of a time when full employment, cheap oil and credit were the norm. Times have changed. Widespread unemployment and urban drift are the new norm for small towns such as Whakatane which increasingly struggle to attract investment. In the place of these outdated models, we need a new strategy that is based not on the top-down development practices of the past, but on a grassroots, bottom-up process of community engagement and participation - a collaborative approach that draws on the skills and knowledge that lies dormant in our communities. Nobody is going to come and save us. We have to create our own healthy, sustainable communities. This, then, is the philosophy behind the drive for a develoment process that has at its centre a clear notion of community health and well-being. The practical conclusions of this analysis can be found in another document - The Whakatane Community Hub that can be downloaded by clicking here.
Th discussed here lays out a draft critical analysis of the current policies and practices of Community and Economic Development in the small town of Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. It is written in five parts - and is intended as a series publication over time in the local newspaper, the Whakatane Beacon. In its draft form it is somewhat academic in style - this is intentionally done as a way of underpinning the theoretical basis of the critique with some background references. The final version will be more "readable". There are five threads to the argument.
To download the PDF click here
Faced with these circumstances, the town's service providers decided to co-ordinate their efforts and to share space and resources. In addition, they also adoted a multi-faceted model of community health which formed the bais of the facilty designs. This model included all of the facets of ife necessary for a balanced and healthy life experience.
To download the PDF click on the image
This PDF lays out a draft critical analysis of the current policies and practices of Community and Economic Development in the small town of Whakatane in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. It is written in five parts - and is intended as a series publication over time in the local newspaper, the Whakatane Beacon. In its draft form it is somewhat academic in style - this is intentionally done as a way of underpinning the theoretical basis of the critique with some background references. The final version will be more "readable". There are five threads to the argument.
The Whakatane Community Hub as an Instrument for Community Development
In the feasibility study, the final workshop of service providers and general public reviewed the results of the earlier workshop and the community survey and from that, recommended that the process continue through to Stage 2 - the development of design proposals for a new community facility for Whakatane - a Community Hub. These design proposals would also include: the development of a design brief, a cost-feasibility study, a business plan, a sustainability analysis and a public relations campaign. The intention is to bring together the proposal for a one-stop social service shop with a community facility that addresses the expressed desires of the young and old in our community for a place that can serve their own pressing needs.
To download the Conceptual Hub Report click on the image above
The Whakatane Community Hub Design Process
The next step in the realisation of the Whakatane Community Hub is already uubnder way. The isolation of two or three site alternatives and the design of a facility to test the cost feasibility and the overall sustainability of the proposal begins at the end of July. The Unitec school of Architecture in Auckland has agreed to run the design process as a studio design project, involving 24 architecture students and staff over a three month preiod. These will be jointed by 8 high school students from Whakatane working as interns - helping the architecture students to better understand the needs of the Whakatane community and at the same time acquiring a first-hand experience of tertiary education and some professional design skills. At the end of the process the design team will produce schematic designs, cost estimates and a business plan that tests the economic vialbility of the proposals.
Child Abuse in Whakatane: Child Poverty Action Report
Click on image to download the Report
In July 2013 the New Zealand Child Poverty Action group released their report on Child Abuse in New Zealand. The Report revealed that Whakatane had the second-highest rate of child abuse in the country. It also noted that although there was no0 evidence (contrary to Government assertions and popular myth) that there was no relationshiip between beneficiary numbers and child abuse. It diid, however point to clear relationships between levels of poverty and proportions of youth in the population. This should be of concern to the people of Whakatane since we have high unemployment and poverty rates and one of the highest youth populations (30%) in the country. What was most shockking about the report was its finding that the level of child violence in Whakatane has doubled between 2008-2012. This is a much needed wake-up call that we are failing to address the real needs of our community and that the Whakatane Community Hub must go ahead!
Unitec students at Toroa Marae, Wairaka
To download the STAGE 1 PDF (Completed 13th August) click here
The latest STAGE 2 of the design proposals (Completed 27th August) can now be downloaded by clicking here
To View the Pattern Language Patterns (briefing information for the design) click here
This is also only the first site that is being explored. There is another site that we will be investigating in the same way. The details of those designs will be posted at the appropriate time
“The most odious form of colonisation, and that which has brought with it the greatest pain for the colonised – (is) the colonisation of the mind”
“Only now, in the Twenty-first Century, are European peoples just starting to appreciate the value of indigenous knowledge(s) about health, medicine, agriculture, philosophy, spirituality, ecology and education”
The untimely death of Joe Kincheloe robbed the world of an important critical theorist and educator. Amongst his last published words were those quoted above, raising our awareness of the growing importance of indigenous knowledge systems in the crises we face. Marxism has long ignored and/or rejected indigenous cultural systems as “Savage” (Engels (1979:7-22), and Kincheloe’s invitation opens the way for a more inclusive theorising of social issues. This paper attempts to take up this invitation in the context of the poor state of our Community Health.
The health system in every Western capitalist country exemplifies the processes of commodification, of corporate power, the consequential alienation and dehumanisation of the people to the status of “patient” consumers – and the effects of so-called “free-market” economics. Education, too, is both a witness and the object of these same forces that have brought every aspect of our lives, and even the survival of the planet to a point of crisis. The driving power behind this corporatisation of health is, of course, Capitalism – particularly in the United States where the so-called “Health System” best epitomises the ethic of greed and self-interest of the free market.
This paper illustrates a story of how, drawing on indigenous models of health, a culturally diverse group of 24 Architecture students (of 11 different nationalities), working with 7 local high school students successfully navigated the complex web of requirements and diverse social, cultural and economic needs to design a new community facility for the small town of Whakatane in New Zealand. Working under the auspices of two local social service providers and in consultation with the bicultural (50% Maori, 50% European) community – they designed a family-friendly, universally accessible facility catering for the needs of all cultural groups, ages and beliefs and intended to rebuild relationships to reverse the dreadful social, cultural and economic statistics – the worst in the nation:
The results were unanimously endorsed by community groups, local politicians and regional and district Councillors and the entire community and the project is now proceeding to towards realisation. The design pedagogy and the evaluation and grading processes were carried out collectively and by consensus using a tried and documented methodology (Ward, 2008A, 2008B; Shielke et. al. 2009). While the outcome was successful from a design perspective, the paper will offer reflective critical analysis of the learning outcomes for the students themselves drawing on instances of studio/classroom experience.
To Download the PDF of the Theory paper click here
To download the PDF of the Practice paper click here
Sustainability is the latest buzzword. It’s not cool to be unsustainable! Yet few people take the time to question what this means, and what it means depends largely on who is using the term. Bankers and politicians (in this day of the “Free” market economy) use it in a financial sense – things have to pay for themselves and turn a profit. Borrowing is sustainable when it is within certain inflationary limits. Architects and planners talk about sustainability in terms of energy-efficiency and environmental balance –sustaining the resources of the planet for future generations. Fortunately, this is the meaning that is gaining increasing public prominence, though not as rapidly as many of us would like. But there is another meaning to the term that does not have the same currency value out there in the world, and this is the notion of social and cultural sustainability – that societies and cultures ought to be able to sustain themselves and their unique identities into the future – that Native Americas, Croatians, Celts, Aborigines, Maori, Saami and other cultures, tribal or otherwise, ought to be able to sustain their languages, customs and unique ways of making their world in the face of globalisation and neo-colonialism. This understanding of the term is not common and would seem strange to most people – although they could probably identify it with their own social and cultural circumstances. It's a meaning that directly opposes, commodification , colonialism and capitalism. It recognises that the creation of one's own world is not only a human right, but an absolute necessity - if we want to create ourselves as true human beings. It was this notion of sustainability that lay at the heart of the Arts and Crafts Movement so vocally espoused by that remarkable British Marxist William Morris. Morris believed that human labour and control over the means of producing one's world was the way to emancipation and true creativity. In criticising capitalism, Morris was aware of its destructive properties for the human spirit and for the planet. And so this meaning is not so very far removed from that more common meaning of environmental sustainability that is emerging again today. When we look at indigenous or pre-colonial cultures we see that their ways of shaping their environment is intimately connected to their sense of identity – of who they are as a culture. When we go to Greece to visit Santorini or Mykonos, we don’t go to see it because it looks like Los Angeles or Auckland. We go because it looks Greek, because it is Greek. We go because it is different, and this difference is a fundamental quality that needs to be sustained. Unfortunately this kind of social and cultural sustainability gets lost – buried under the other kind of sustainability – not only the one that worries about the important issues of dwindling oil stocks, global warming and climate change, but more significantly, the one that focuses on economic sustainability, that is tied to the “free” market and to corporate profitability at all costs. It is this process of globalisation that threatens to eradicate the differences in our world by separating cultures from the processes and materials by which they create their own environments and replacing them with processes, materials and products from distant and cheaper places. If we look at these traditional cultures that we say we value so much, we will see that they were based on plenitude. – the people had enough and were not driven to consume the way that we are. Their cultures were based on production, rather than consumption. These older cultures maintained a balance between their available resources and their own consumption. Consumption in our modern world is different. It is driven by a manufactured scarcity that impels us to use more than we have or can afford, and that therefore requires us to consume resources that lie beyond our own immediate environment – little caring what the consequences might be for the cultures who live in those places – Bengaladesh, India etc. – or for the planet. It is for this reason that my own design work has a deep engagement with sustainability - a concern with resource conservation and sustainment but also echoing the kinds of architecture that were produced by the Arts and crafts movement - William Morris, Bernard Maybeck, Green and Green etc. who took craftsmanship as their highest ideal. This is why many of the projects I have worked on have been self-designed and self-built by my clients. Because I see the necessity to support their creative energies and I celebrate their ability to make their own world.
This PDF presents a general outline, with images, of my ongoing engagement with sustainable design issues since 1973.
To download the PDF click here.
The file is 17 megabites so be patient!
This PDF contains a brief overview of the many Communityy Houses and Community Centres throughout New Zealand. It descrtibes their locations, the list of community agencies they serve and the kinds of facilities they provide. It was written as a precursor to a feasibility study to determine the need for a community centre for Whakatane. That feasibility study can be downloaded by clicking here
The resulting proposal for a community facility: A Community Hub can be downloaded by clicking here
To download the PDF on Community Centres and Houses CLICK HERE .
Click on image to download Report
This is the Whakatane Town Vision Plan - developed by the Whakatane District Council on the basis of a design workshop to which I was an invited consultant/participant. I was invited on the basis of the work I had done earlier in the Whakatane Community Development Study . The study was done in 2005 before being presented to Council in 2008
The Town Vision Study is available on the Whakatane District Council website, or can be downloaded as a PDF from this websiter here.
I chose a house - a 1930s bungalow - that was been a warden's house in the Waitakere Watercare district - in the Waitakere ranges. It was small but solid, framed in rimu, with rimu floors. The interior had been partly gutted, but that didn't matter since I intended extensive modifications.I arranged with a removal contractor to lift the house and to shift it, in two parts, onto the rear section of my newly acquired property. Access required the removal of a Phoenix Palm and much privet, (all done by Skippy) plus an agreement with the neighbours to temporarily use a small part of their driveway. Even so, it was a tight squeeze.
Reconnected and then Gutted
The work of framing the upper storey proceeded until finally the form of the house began to emerge.
Framing the Upper Floor
The Final Form
The organisation of thew space was very efficient. The envelope of the original house was retained, but perforated with wide (bifold) door openings that offered unrestricted indoor-outdoor flow. The plan made the maximum use of the available space - touching the allowable boundary condition on every side, and slightly exceeding it in height at one point (6" above the allowable height over a four foot lengeht of roof - approved by the neighbours). The entrance was conceived as a portico accessed over a bridge laid over ornamental pools. The interior was arranged as an open plan to maximise space-usage and to give a greater sense of connection to the park from all interior view points.
The prrtico with its superstructure of two balconies and the access gantry was initially conceived in a series of rough sketches (below). Following the completion of the upper level (and stair) it now became imperative to complete the portico and entrance below. Downstairs I had conserved space by keeping the staircase to the first floor to a minimum foorprint - this was done at the expense of easy access to the upstairs for furniture etc. This was addressed by the inclusion of a gantry onto the first floor alcony, with an access gate built into the balustrade.
During the construction oif the upper floor, two large beams had been cantilevered out of the wall framing to take the mezzanine deck loads. These were now used to lift the large bridge timbers into place to hold up the main deck. (below right) These timbers (400mm x 400mm) Australian ironwood were enormously heavy.
Section sketch Starting the Portico
Placing the Columns
Once in place the columns were concreted into foundation pads with appropriate reinforcement
Concreting in Place
With the columns both in place, it was time to build the deck framing - beginning with the 350mm x 350 mm kauri beam from the demolition yard.
Columns in Place Placing the Kauri Beam
Framing the Deck
With the deck framing in place, it was possible to begin work on the superstructure for the mezaanine deck and the gantry.
Cantilevered and Corbeled Beam Connection Mezzanine Deck Posts
Framing Gantry Supports Deck Handrail and Gate
Looking to the Neighbour's Deck The Completed Portico Structure
The bungalow had earlier had a fireplace. To remove the building, the fireplace and brick flue had to be demolished. I collected all of the bricks and cleaned them - determined to waste nothing in my building process. Many of them were to be used in the garden walls and edgings that I built over the next two years - as well as in the ornamental pools around the entrance. Those that were left over I decided to use as a path, laid into the driveway and leading to the entrance-portico. FBefore concreting the driveway, I laid out the edges of the path to mark its place in the driveway. This also allowed me to define the limoits of the entrance and the planted areas surrounding it. With the bricks in place, the contractors filled inn the driveway, using colour additives in the cement to match the colour of the bricks.
The first floor was designed to functionas a separate rentable space. For the first few years, our co-operative practice design tribe worked out of there.
Design Tribe Partners
All told, it took 10 years to finish building the house - a real labour of love. I did a great deal of the work myself - framing, roofing, foundations, cabinet work, etc. - everything, in fact, except the electrical and plumbing work, which required certifications. I leaned a great deal and grew enormously. I made and kept some much-loved friends. I sold the house in 2000 and moved to Whakatane to work. Looking back at these imafges now, I remember how much I loved it.
Ohakuri Lodge is situated about twnty miles South East of Rotorua in New Zealand's Bay of Plenty. It is a hydro-lake, formed by the damming of the Waikato River in the 1950s. It lies in the centre of a geothermally active zone and there are numerous hot pools and spas within a short drive. It has been owned by the author since 1992, and is a work-in-progress. The property is an isolated, peaceful, 40 acre retreat. The nearest neighbours are half a mile away. The vistas of the lake are, in places, stunning
Looking Down the Inlet
The property is horse-shoe in shape, and encloses a private inlet. At night there are no lights to be seen, save for the brilliant stars in their thousands. When I bought the property in 1992, it was with the intention of retiring there. Rotorua, a half-hour distant, has an international airport, and the town is one of New Zealand's premier tourism destinations. In 2004, Leonie and I planted 5000 redwood trees on the land - not to harvest, but as a contribution to future generations. We are also regenerating the native bush around the margins of the inlet, to attract native birdlife back (see contour model). We also built roads into the property to access our other building sites. Over time our plans have matured. Where originally we had intended to simply build a house, the idea grew that others might enjoy the peace of our property. We began to think about how we could live there and also make our living there by having a place for others to stay - perhaps in groups. The notion of a separate studio emerged - a place to work, but with accommodation for residential workshops and group retreats.
Ohakuri Lodge (Proposed)
Ohakuri Lodge was born as an idea (the original name we had for it was "Korimako retreat" after the native Bellbird). We envisioned the lodge in the form of an enclosed garden, bounded on one edge by the workshop/studio space, looking out over the lake, and on the other sides by accommodations and service buildings. The garden would provide us with year-round organic vegetables. The cost of being off-the-grid proved insurmountable so we reluctantly agreed to buying our power with a future intention to have our own system as soon as the network allowed us to sell-back.
Phase 1 of the project was to build the studio. We needed something that would be sustainable, using maximum amounts of passive solar space heating and water heating. Where possible, we would use composting toilets and recycle our grey water. We decided to use a recycled building (an army barracks - "Swords into plowshares"?) as our starting point, and chose part of an old barracks building from the Papakura Army camp. The building was long and thin (almost 60' x 18') offering excellent solar exposure on an East-West axis, which would allow us to face the long side of the building out into the lake view.
Plan of Stage 1 - The Studio
To enlarge click image
This is our first building - housing the workshop/seminar areas as well as cooking, dining and bathroom facilities. It is designed to be able to be used for sleeping Marae-style for larger groups over weekend workshops that will generate enough income for stge 2 development - the bedroom wing.
Combined plan showing the Bedroom Wing (right)
Accordingly, the old building was trucked onto the site and positioned in its final location. En route, it almost fell off the truck one one of the sharp bends leading to the property.
The building was in a state of significant dilapidation, and I have to confess to having some anxiety about the work needed to bring it up to an acceptable standard.
We had the building transported to the site and the foundations laid close to the edge of a small knoll overlooking the inlet.
Alongside the foundations for the building we then built a whole other set of foundations for the deck that would run around the entire building, and would provide a good indoor-outdoor accedss from the studio on the lake overlook.
Then began the task of framing small extensions to the building, insulating the entire envelope, modifying all of the windows and fitting the large bifolds (3) that would give access to the deck.
Framing and Cladding
Finally, the building envelope was secured, and we could begin the task of stopping and plastering the interior.
Stopping and Plastering
The interior comprises one large, simple, open space. The only (small) additions are two alcoves - one for the bed space (pictured below) and a similar one for the kitchen at the other end of the building. The main space (which includes the temporary sleeping area) measures 20' x 30'. The small framed beam shown in the picture is to take a trach for a set of internal bifolds that can be iused to break this space into two equal parts - each with its own full access to the deck.
Finishing the Deck
The deck itself is large and runs the length of the building, designed to serve as an outdoor equivalent to its indoor counterpart. The roof overhangs seen here are designed specifically to eliminate summer sun penetration, but to allow maximum solar gain in Winter.
As work progressed the building began to acquire a more finished look.
View from a Nearby Hill
View from the Inlet
But it is from the interior that the impact can be experienced. The views down the lake inlet are ever-changing and dramatic.
View from the Deck
The views from the inside are equally wonderful. This view from the kitchen and dining space can at times be breathtaking.
View from the Dining Space
As time progressed, Leonie's family came to help. This picture is taken on one of our painting weekends
The Family Painting Team
Ohakuri Lodge continues to be a work in progress, continually interrupted by the need to earn a living and build our professional lives. Since the painting was finished much work has been done. The pergola along the South side, which will eventually link the studio to the sleeping accommodation is now finished. and inmcludes a sheltered woodshed and workshop. Fruit trees have been planted, and a solar water system is ready to be installed, along with the heat-exchanger in the open fire, that stands at one end of the studio space. As time allows we will continue towards completion.
Woodshed and Toolshed
Since these images were taken we have sandede and sealed the internal floors - native matai. There remains a great deal to do. A seperate bedroom wing is next on the agenda , followed by an accommodation block for our guests and occasional woofers. It is a work in progress and a labour of love - a creative endeavour that we love.
Aerial View from North-West
An addition to a iconic (and very lovely) house designed by Auckland architect Nick Stanish on a minuscule section in Freemans Bay proved to be a major challenge in the development of a self-contained unit. The site was smaller than most small vegetable gardens and hemmed in by height restrictions along every boundary. The design touches the allowable building envelope on every surface but still maintains the character of the existing cedar weatherboard house. The form and materials of the addition are crafted to fit in with the original - rather than making a contrasting statement - this out of respect for what was a fine building.
The cottage contains a living/dining/office space with a master bedroom above, all served by a large bathroom and sauna. The whole opens onto a landscaped patio/deck area giving exceptional indoor/outdoor living. All of this is incorporated in a 480 sq. ft. footprint and was built for $57,000.
South-facade and courtyard
Ground Floor Plan
Click image to enlarge
Upper Floor Plan
Click on image to enlarge
In 1985, Phillip Barrance was a young builder who bought s steep and very wooded section in Freemand Bay, in exclusive inner city Auckland. Phillip wanter to build three townhouses on the bottom portion of the section, and to sell them. He wanted houses that were essentially private, but with an internal feeling of spaciousness, all within a tight budget. They were to have an expression that connoted "South Pacific" with overtones of mMori and Polynesian influence. The resulting design is on four levels, stepping down the site and wrapping around a private garden. The lower level comprises the bedroom areas. The top level is a study high in the trees. In between are mezzanine levels with lkiving and dining areas. The entrance is at the third level which also houses a guest (3rd) bedroom.
The houses were to be finished in cedar ply with applied battens. Sadly, they were never built -victims of the 1987 stock-market crash. The client was unable to raise the necessary capital and instead built two, prefabricated units.
Entry/Mezzanine Floor Plan
Lower Floor Plan
Devonport is a charming Edwardian suburb on the shore of the Waitemata Harbour facing Auckland City. In 1987 its old ferry terminal and pier was in a state of extreme disrepair and was offered by the Auckland Harbour Board to potential developers in open competition. The charm of the town is considerable and it was important to the Harbour Board that any development should be in keeping with the local character of the place, and that it should have thes upport of the community.
I was employed as a design consultant by one of the potential developers - Wilkins and Davies. I helped choose the main architects - Hotson Bakker of Vancouver (one of Canada's foremost waterfront architects) and in the development of design principles (Pattern Language) and brief, as well as in the form and content of the final proposal. I also organised and facilitated a community forum where residents were able to contribute to the design process.
The proposal included a small boutique (40 room) hotel - the economic anchor for the whole development - together with a mix of retail accommodation and greatly improved ferry terminal facility, all topped off by a major waterfront restaurant. The design was budgeted at $8 million. The design was one of two that were short-listed, but was ultimately unsuccesful. The successful design was built and failed economically (it did not contain the necessary hotel units that would have provided the economic foundation for the development. Proposals are currently being sought to redevelop the site once again.
Existing Floor Plan
Initially, Mal Smith wanted toadd another storey onto his bungalow to include a more spacious master bedroom and en suite.
Modification of Existing House
Additional to this, was a proposed cottage in which he himself might later live - renting his main hoime out for a retirement income. The cottage was linked to the main house via a loggia which ran the length of a new swimming pool.
House, Pool, Cottage and Loggia
In 1988, in the face of Michael Bassett's move to amalgamate the disparate Auckland Local Authorities into one centralised Auckland City Council, a number of concerned citizens (architects, planners, landscape architects and conservation-minded citizens) were afraid that the unique character of the Ponsonby-Freemans Bay-Herne Bay Boroughs would be lost and that the "village" character of the area would disappear. In response, they formed the Ponsonby Urban Design Working Party (with 30 members) to research the needs and expectation of the residents and to make recommendations to Council. I undertook to co-ordinate the work of the group, facilitate focus groups, integrate research findings and write and edit the final report (with 12 writers). The result was The Ponsonby Plan, a 300 page report with detailed proposals for development, conservation, open space, building density and heritage building preservation. The study was a first in New Zealand and led to a review of the District Scheme with respect to special character areas such as those described. The major concerns and recommendations of the Ponsionby Plan still stand today, 20 years later as the Auckland Unitary Plan draws sharp public criticism and concern..
A downloadable PDF will be available here soon.
Same scheme seen from the South East
I preferred these designs to those finally chosen by the client. They were rejected for cost considerations.
Model of the final units seen from the North East
Model of the final units seen from the East
View of the Units from the South East
View of the Units from the North East
View from the North West Living Room/Courtyard
The complex seen from the North East.
In 1985, about three years after I settled in New Zealand, my friend Alan Brown asked me to design a house for his family. Alan had Maori ancestors somewhere in the past. I had met him about a year earlier when he was the builder on another design project in Auckland. Alan was an artist, builder and craftsman who now makes exquisits objets d'artes out of New Zealand greenstone for the international market. Then he was a struggling artist, doing building contract work to keep body and soul together between art commissions. In his spare time he would carve greenstone in the shapes that came to him in dreams, dreams much dominated by images of the tainui carving/deity Uenuku. For some reason, Alan felt safe to confide in me about his Uenuku dreams and to tell me how he had become as a consequence, obsessed with carving. He lived with his family in thes mall King Country town of Raetihi, where his mother and father also lived on a small farm overlooking the extensive views down to the Whanganui River Valley. He wanted to build a house for his family on a shelf, below the level of the farm's main paddock - tucked down and almost invisible from above, but extensive and sustainable below, sheltering from the winds that come down off nearby Mt. Ruapehu. A major consideration was the ability to feed his family throughout the New Zealand winter, so the large conservatory serves the dual purpose of being a growing space as well as a solar collector to space-heat the house.
The design process was arduous. I had several meetings with Alan in Auckland before travelling down with him and staying in Raetehi, under the shadow of the volcanic Mt. Ruapehu. We worked together for two days, continuously talking about his plans, his dreams. At the end of an exhausting second day,Alan decided to go to bed at about midnight. I elected to go on working at the drawing board into the small hours. About 3.00am, I finally "saw" the design solution and drew it up in a feverish haste, finally finishing and waking him at 6.00am to show him my prized idea. He was completely enthralled by it, and made it clear that I had "cracked it". To celebrate, we wandered down to the site with the sun not yet over the morning horizon. As we came to the edge oif the paddock, the sun appeared beneath the clouds and cast ots beams directly down into the basin over which we were looking. There, in the centre of this large, circular basin (perhaps half a mile in diameter) stood a very small, perfectly formed and symmetrical volcanic cone about fifty feet high and perhaps80 meters in diameter - a plug, I suspected, from some earlier eruption. As we looked, the shafts ofsunlight settled on the cone like some theatrical spotlight and we decided there and then to wander down and to rest on its summit in the morning sun.
I was very tired, but also elated at my success after so much struggle. I settled back with my eles shut, watching the shifting shadows on my lids as the fragile sunlight danced between the clouds. I started to speak, unself-consciously about the project, about design, about designing in a New Zealand context, and finally about my feelings of ambivalence about settling there. "I love New Zealand", I told him, "but there are important things that I miss." "Like what?" Alan asked. I lay there thinking for a minute, almost dozing off in the gentle warmth of the morning sun.
"Ancient things", I said. "America and Europe have neen continually inhabited for tens of thousands of years,and the traces of this habitation are to be found everywhere. It is possible to feel a real connection with the people of the past. They are, in a sense still alive and inhabiting the ancient places and stones that remain from their own time. Their inscriptions and marks speak down through the centuries to us today. Here in New Zealand, that isn't the case, and I miss that contact with the ancient ones. I miss the sense of history." Alan sat there for a few minutes in silence. Then suddenly sprang to his feet and ran down the hill. I wondered what was happening and opened my eyes to see what he was up to. There he sat, at the foot of the small cone, turning over a large boulder and brushing the caked mud and dirt from its underside. I stood up - a little grumpy at having my rest and reverie disturbed by this strange activity, and wandered down the hill for a closer inspection.
"Look at this," he said, pointing to the stone. There, on the side that had been hidden freom view, were a series of three or four grooves each about an inch deep. "A sharpening stone", he said, with an edge of triumph in his voice. "It's been used to sharpen the edges of weapons and tools." I stared in disbelief, wondrous at the synchronicity of events. What had caused this stone to appear at the very moment I had been lamenting the lack of historical cultural traces? What had caused Alan to notice it, to see it as special or different from the other boulders lying around? What was it about it that had aroused his curiosity - prompted him to examine it closely, to turn it over? I will never know.
Alan finding the stone
The house is long and thin, running along the contours and dropping down to different levels. and nestling back into the hillside. It incorporates an integrated passive solar greenhouse to provide food and heat through the winter. Construction was by means of a prefabricated modular panel system with zero waste and easy fabrication and connection. to minimise labour costs and time. It was intended to fabricate the parts in the existing barn furtjer down the paddock. The house was never built. Alan and his wife separated before plans could be completed.
I lost touch with Alan for several years after that. The one day, I went to see the return of the te Maori Exhibition to Auckland after its world tour. It had opened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1984 and then moved to the De Youung Museum in San Francisco and the Field Museum in Chicago as well as several other notable venues. It was the first great gathering of traditional and ancient Maori art ever collected together and represented the arts of many different tribes. The exhibition was opened and closed and accompanied by Maori guardians in its travels and now here it was back at the art Museum in Auckland. I went soen to line up outside the building with the throng of other expectant cisitors, anxious to witness this great collection that was soon to be dismantled. I stood in the queue and turned to find, standing just behind me, none other than Alan Brown. It was another moment of revelation as we entered the exhibition together and soon were standing, side by side, looking with reverance and awe at Uenuku - the Maori God of the rainbow - a carving that had reputedly been brought to Aotea-New Zealand centuries earlier on the Tainui canoe, and had been buried in a swamp during the Land Wars to prevent it falling into the hands of the Government troops - a century later to be rediscovered by a farmer - or so I have heard it told. Uenuku, the carving that had haunted Alan's dreams and in some measure had brought us together.
Whare Kura o Hoani Waititi, West Auckland.
In 1993, I negotiated a contract with the Ministry of Education to have my Maori University students develop design proposals for New Zealand's first purpose-designed Whare Kura at Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland. The process was conducted according to kaupapa Maori principles and traditions (tikanga) and students (under guidance) took full responsibility for the development of the proposal. The Whare Kura was an addition to an existing campus containing a marae, a Kohanga Reo and a Kura Kaupapa Primary School.
The Whaihanga design group
Initial Koru Theme Concept Diagram Emerging design
Initial Design Plan Site Layout Site Model
Creekside Classrooms Creekside Library Library Interior
NZIA Article Whanau Room Whare Tapere
With some modification, the Kura was built as designed, and embodied principles of Kaupapa Maori that were to become benchmarks in the Ministry of Education programmes of the future.
To downloadr a more detailed representation of the process and the Whare Kura, click here
John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, the international musicians, had a house in Sonoma California, which they shared with Cleo's son Stuart when they were in the States. They asked me if I would redesign the house to accommodate the whole extended family.
In many ways this project involved a rather conventional design process, though somewhat complicated by having to communicate across 8000 miles, without fax machines. The design involved cutting the roof off the garage and designed a second level with a bedroom and music studio with balconies looking out over the Sonoma Hills to the San Francisco Bay. The new wing is on the opposite side of the house from the existing bedrooms - fostering necessary privacy after a long touring schedule. The addition seeks to capture John's liking for "California water towers" and to bring a little theatrical flamboyance mixed with British understatement into what was an unremarkable tract home with little distinguishing character. The upper level cantilevers over the lower to both maximise floor space and minimise costs, while also helping to model the facade. The result is not unlike an old English coach-house or mews.
House as Existing
House as Proposed
Ground Floor Plan
First Floor Plan
View from the North
View from the Drive View from the West
Views from the South and East
A3erial View from the North West
Music Studio Bedroom
They were adamant that they wanted their home to "be at home in nature", not to "strain its relationship with the environment". They wanted to have a home that was easy to heat and to cool, but they had an abhorrance for the high-tech glass-and-steel solar systems and houses that were then in vogue. They wanted their home to seem as though it had been there "for a hundred years or more" - to be technically sophisticated but conceptually and environmentally simple - with few mechanical parts. They wanted it to fit into the Napa Valley vernacular, rustic yet sophisticated. using natural materials where possible.
They asked me to design a sustainable house for them - cool in the hot Napa Summers and warm in the cold Winters, using natural energy systems. They were concerned to minimise the maintenance and running costs - relying on non-mechanical means of achieving their aims. We talked for a long time about the Patterns they wanted to include in their house and about the kind of character they wanted it to have. Key to all of this was a clear understanding of the site and the location of the sun.
Solar Rose showing annual sun positions
In all of their 40 acres, there were few places where a house might be sited. The terrain was steep and heavily wooded. It was important to choose a site where year-round sun was available. The one location was a small plateau, overlooking Mt. St. Helena in the distant North East.
View from the South-East Winter Sun/Shade
Click images to enlarge They began by clearing most of their mountainous 40 acres and building a garage and a workshop and by laying a tortuous gravel road. Robert's dream was to build the house around the 375mm x 375mm bridge timbers that he had earlier dismantled in Oregon and transported to the site, 400 miles away. These formed the core framework of the design. The chosen plateau location thrust our over the valley, offering the maximum solar exposure year-round. In the picture above, right, the mountain shadows fail to reach the house in mid-Winter.
Aerial View fom South West Entrance from North West
The plan form is a perfect square (a cube in 3 dimensions) designed to minimise wall area while maximising space. The bridge timbers form the core around which a spiral of spaces ascends - with a different functional level extending off each quarter landing. The lowest floor is the Entrance level, giving immediate access to the guest accommodation with its own bathroom, and ascnending a quarter flight to the "snug" area - with an inglenook fireplace - a "cozy" to snuggle up on the cold winter nights. Continuing upwards, the next level is the living/kitchan/dining level - all with Southern exposure and all with direct-gain passive solar heating. The eaves are designed specifically to block the overhead Summer sun and to allo the penetration of the winter sun onto the insulated tile floor.
Click Image to Enlarge
Continuing upwards, we reach the next quarter level - the Master Bedroom, with shutters opening up to look down into the living area. From here, another quarter flight brings us to the library - once again opening up onto the living space below. Finally,, a full flight takes usup to the top floor - a meditation space overlooking Mt. St. Helena in the distance and with 360 degree views of the surrounding mountains.
Click image to enlarge
Section showing heating convection system
Click on image to enlarge
This level is also a heat collector, where warm air that has risen from below is re-circulated back, down a central duct and into the subfloor. In Summertime, this exess heat is vented out through the cupola that crowns the roof. The low pressure system thus created draws in cool air into the subfloor through earth-tubes, buried in the forest floor and introducing cool air (56 deg, F) into the subfloor. In Winter time this same 56deg. earth-tempered air is used to preheat the subfloor that is also obtaining direct-gain heat through the windows. The subfloor is designed to recirculate the warm air. It comprises a metal floor decking topped with concrete and both laid over a plywood subfloor with insulation beneath. This provides a honeycomb over the whole floor area through which the warm air can flow - heating the concrete mass above and insulated from the cold below. It is this plenum that helps to preheat the concrete flow in winter and to cool it from the earth-tempered air in summer.
All of this simple technology is enclosed in a building that belies its sophisticated function and sustainability - a building that at once appears ancient and modern, Victorian and yet rustic. Robert once said that the house reminded him of a norwehgian Stave Church, or perhals a Zen temple. It is hard to place, culturally and historically. It is built to a system. All oif the windows are combinations of modules (this again to minimise cost and maximise effctiveness), repeated in rythmic patterns throughout the entire building. Once the basic module(s) were determined, Robert built a jig and made them all himself.
North East Elevation North West Elevation
South East Elevation South West Elevation
The building is essentially inwardly-focused, revolving, as it does around the central spiral stair and heat plenum. Yet where it needs to look out, it does so, The North face is sparcely windowed to conserve energy. The Southern face almost fully glazed. Internally, the space soars - the public spaces having lofty open-beam ceilings, while the private spaces are closed and intimate. The breakfast area is an alcove off the kitchen and looking out across the valley to Mt. St. Helena. The lower "snug" with the library above can be seen to the left
Western Approach Entrance Porch
View from North-East South Face
View from South Western Hills (Summer)
Typical Napa Wineries
The House was set along the southern edge of a live-oak forest, in a small clearing sloping gradually to the South. There were two small creeks back in the forest that converged towards the bottom end of the clearing. Access was through the forest and across one of these streams. Precise location was determined by optimal access to the winter sun, and proximity to the forest for summer cooling.
Solar Rose, Cloudt Site
Based loosely on the same principles as the ancient Hisatsinom ruin of Pueblo Bonito at Chaco Canyon in Arizona, the house is organised around a semi-circular courtyard, capturing the winter sun thoughout the day and maximising the building's insolation. This maximisation is rendered even more effective by the inclusion of a pool that focuses and reflects the low rays of the winter sun deep inton the living and sleeping spaces.
Ground Floor Plan
South-facing walls are heavily glazed, while the North walls have few and small windows - increasing winter heating and reducing heat-loss. The clerestory windows allow sun to penetrate to the very back, masonry walls, of the building which then act as a heat-storage medium - releasing their stored heat back into the spaces during the cooler evening and night time.
Aerial Perspective from the South-East
The Winter heating mode is enhanced by:
Winter Bedroom Direct Gain Heating
During the Summer months, this process is reversed. The carefully-designed roof overhangs block the overhead sun and prevent its penetration into the interior. At the same time, the courtyard pool and fountain provides a powerful form of evaporative cooling. As the water in the pond changes state from liquid to vapour (gas) it requires massive amounts of heat to complete the process - taking this heat from the surrounding air and maintaining a balanced, cool air temperature around the pool.
This is supplemented by three natural cooling systems:
Summer cupola-chimney effect and earth-tube cooling
The entire system works on natural air-flow principles and requires very little mechanical assistance - perhap[s\ the use of a couple of small in-line fans to assist the flow of air occasionally. One of the primary design tasks was to encapsulate all of this sustainable technology into a building that didn't look "high-tech", but that had the look and feel of a timeless, crafted home in the Arts and Crafts style that satisfied the client's romantic tendencies and the demands of a wine-country vernacular. The result was a deliberately playful and whimsical reference to French chateaux with a more serious underlying theme of environmental and energy conservation. Energy calculations suggested that the building wouild perform well - maintaining a cool interior in the 100 deg. F. Napa summers and a warm 68 degree F. internal temperature in the 30-40 degree F. Napa winters.
Courtyard view from the South
Aerial View from the North West
Despite the fact that all planning and building permits were obtained and building cost estimates had come in at the expected and agreeable price, the project was neverv realised. The extended Cloudt/Shea family separated before construction began and the project was shelved.
Anchor Bay, West side
Click on image to enlarge
It isn't every day that a designer gets to leave his or her mark on a whole town - to transform it completely and to establish it as an iconic place to visit. In 1974, Anchor Bay was a tiny hamlet on SH1, owned entirely by one man, Dick McCoy, who wanted to do a "do-up". The town was a typical strip development straddling the highway with a store, a bar and restaurant on one (East) side and a laundry, a gas station, a beauty parlour and a realtor's office on the other, all set either side of the road and backing on to the most magnificent stretch of the Mendocino coast.
Sunset, Anchor Bay
Anchor Bay Store - Existing and Proposed
In 1974 it was home to a rich and varied assortment of people - old hippies, artists, poets, loggers, fishermen and a few retirees and retailers. The place hadn't yet "taken off" - being just too far our (3 hours on a very windey cliff-edge road) from San Francisco. It was a haven for folks who had eschewed the city life for a heterogeneous community of individuals and eccentrics. The heart of the community was the Anchor Bay Store - a place where you could but almost anything from fishing gear to tools, food and leisure parephenalia. Everyone gathered there in the morning, to get their newspaper, their cigarettes, their provisions, and to chew the fat. It was a small community (about 400) with a few houses behind the soire but with most scattered in the hills and redwoods for ten miles in either direction. Everybody knew everyone's business - who was courting who, who was cheating on who and so on. The Anchor Bay Store was the centre of communicvation in general and gossip in particular.
Dick McCoy had a vision of the town being more than just a wide part of the road - the coastal State Highway 1 that ran up from the Bay Area to Mendiocino and beyond. He wanted it to be a thriving tourism destination in its own right, a place that people came to visit especially as they travelled along this beautiful stretch of coast. He didn't quite know how he thought this might be accomplished but he was willing to give me the opportunity to explore the possibilities. Over discussions I discovered that Dick had an old antique ship's bell that he treasured. It didn't take long to convinve him that we could use it in the design as the key to a bell tower that would act as an omphallus - a visual and cultural marker for the town that would highlight its social significance to the community and would transmit this sense to the passing tourists.
Preliminary Concept Drawing
Once the decision was taken, work priogressed rapidly and in very little time, the sorefront and bell tower were completed.
But that was only half the story. The store went on to become an ioconic piece of the Coast's architecture, attracting artistic renditions on postcards, tee shirts and the like - tourism trophies that visitors took home with them to remind them of the special quality of the "Banana Coast" as it was colloquially called.. But the true mark of the store's success was that over the next 20 years, the development of the storefront became the theme that was extended along the entire east side of the town.
East side, 1986
At first the extended development carried out the rough-sawn and rustic quality of the original - an homage to the working community of loggers and fishermen that lived there. Byut as the years passed, and as the Coast became more accessible to the city, to town and its surrounding district grew in popularity and began to attract urbanites with their holiday homes and flexitime jobs in the city. It was at this point that the town took on a more middle-class, sophisticated look á la Sausalito.
The store, 2006.
I have to say that after all these years, I still prefer the original, rough-sawn quality of the original. Perthaps it's just that it reminds me of my old Coast friends, some of whom have since passed. Ken and Sarah Rogers, Kentucky John, Nancy McSherry, Bill and Roz Winkelholz, Eric Black, Richie Wasserman, Kurt Kopfer. They were good times and good friends and they marked a time in my life where the sense of community was complete and satisfying.
During the time of my life I spent in Point Arena, on the California State Hwy 1, North of San Francisco - between 1974-77, I designed several small buildings. Among them was this little self-built house next to Sunnnybreeze, the small ranch that I owned on Iverson Landing Road, about half a mile from the ocean, walking down through Ken and Sara's land. I loved the modest and unpretentious design. This house and other designs would later form the basis of a Design Theory article that I would write for Architectural Design Magazine in London - Hand-Built Houses - A Search for Identity. They were simple, direct and largely built and co-designed by the people themselves with available materials - invariably expressing the character, world view and attitudes of the clients in almost imperceptible ways. They were, in a word, vernacular. My favourite was this small house and barn for Sarah and Ken Rogers. They looked as if they had already existed for a hundred years.
Ken and sara moved in as my neighbours in 1975. She was a poet and a check-out employee at the Anchor Bay Store. She printed her poems on an old letterpress on handmade paper of her own creation He was a painter whose art she was bowled over by. They met in a night class she was running at Vaccaville State Prison where he was serving time for murder - an act committed as a drunken young sailor. She had six children and was married to a farmer in the Central Valley. They fell in love and moved to the Coast together on his release. They bought 80 acres of land between my own place and the Pacific Ocean in Southern Mendocino County. When they bought it it was overgrown, inaccessible and pretty well unworkable. In five years they transformed it into a rural parkland, with a small flock of sheep (and a ram!), goats and a very small lumber business sprung from their incredible energy and a desire to clear their land of brush.
When they bought the land they had hardly any money, and lived there in a tiny trailer, building their home on evenings and weekends and in between part-time jobs that they did to make their payments. All of the materials in their barn and their home were culled from old, disintegrating buildings in the area, or were donated by many of their kind friends. Often, materials and skills were traded for hard work. Half a dozen friends would gather to erect a water-tower, and the next day each would find half a year's supply of painfully acquired firewood on their front doorstep. I designed the house with Ken looking over my shoiulder telling me where to draw each line. The task was accomplished (complete with working drawings) in about foiur hours. The next day he helped me to lay the new floor in my kitchen. I loved them both and counted them among thje fondest of my friends.
Their home was an exquisite tiny jewel of space, hand-crafted and very simple and inexpensive. To visit them was a joy. Each nook and cranny held the magic of cherished memories, of friends here and gone, and of times that once were simple. The process that created the house was also used to design and build their simple and evocative barn. In 2010, I heard that they had parted, that Ken had died in Oregon of cancer.. After living on the land for 30 years and workinng as a Park Ranger at the Manchester State Park in Point Arena, Sara moved to Shasta County where she was living (in her 80's) until her emails started to bounce back..
Bob and Debbie Falkenburg lived in Berkeley and owned a piece of land on the hills above Big Sur, overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was their dream to live and work from there. They were both young professionals who had decided not to have children and tghey saw their house as a place to "get away" from the world and to provide them with a sustainable life. The house was never completed.
Office Meeting Spaces
Generic Meeting Space Diagram, MPBW 1967.
Following graduation nand a brief spell with my old architectural firm in Manchester, I moved to London to work with Christopher Alexander and Barry Poyner who were developing a design programming tool called Relational Theory - later to be called A pattern Language. I worked for what was then the Ministry of Public Building and Works (later to become the Department of the Environment) as a research and development programmer. Among the projects I was involved with were:
- A Ministry study of the availability and suitability of office and conference space in Central London
Research into the design of Prison Workshops to reduce recidivism
- An analysis of behavioural conflict and safety in public housing
The design of office furniture for use in Burolandschaft office planning.
Sheltered Workshops for the Blind
These sub-syntheses of patterns were then cmined to produce a prototypical workshop layout covering every aspect of safety, mobility, orientation etc.
Final generic organisational development proposal for sheltered workshop
click on image to enlarge
Click on image to enlarge
Holy Family Primary School, Rochdale.
As a young man, it was a remarkable opportunity to work in a position of responsibility on such large projects. Later, when I eventually went to School of Architecture to complete my training, I was fortunate to be able to design another primary school, at Lord Wandsworth School in Farnham, Hampshire. (below)
Lord Wandsworth Primary School, Farnham, Hampshire
In both instances, the brief required an analysis of progressive teaching practices and the design of spaces to facilitate these.
Epsom Girls Grammar School , Auckland
From a period extending from 1994 until 2001 I was involved in a series of development and spatial studies at Epsom Girls Grammar School. These included:
This work involved extensive analysis, programming and design of the School's buildings and spaces - much of the work of a critical nature given the School's small site and limited development and expansion potential.
Creative Arts Centre
Camous Development Meeting
A more detailed description and analysis will be available for download soon
This was my family home when we first moved to New Zealand. A double-fronted villa located adjacent to Gribblehurst Park in Sandringham. Earlier owners hadenclosed the verandah, losing much of the modelling that such buildings possess. Shortly after our arrival myfather came from the U.K. to live with us, and it was inportant to quickly provide additionsl separate and private accommodation for him as well as more space for the family. Both my wife Claire and I needed our own home offices and our son Jonathan was being home-schooled and needed extensive space of his own. We decided on an extensive remodel, exploiting the flamboyance of the original villa and expressing our exuberance at being in New Zealand. The future looked bright.
The accommodation for my father was the easiest part of the project. An old but sound outbuilding, the size of a large garage, stood in the back garden. I converted this into a self-contained flat for my day, complete with separate bathroom and small kitchenette. The grounds were extensively planned with wgarden water features and extensive vegetable gardens.Care was taken to make maximum use of the natural sunlight - opening up the walls with added bays to capture the top-light.
These bays catch the morning sunlight -something villas are not noted for. The division between the main bedroom and the living areawas to be demolished - offering a much more extensive family area off the farmhouse kitchen. The master bedroom is then added at a second floor level and accessed from a new stair off the living space.
Ground Floor Plan
The First floor, contains the new Master Bedroom and en suite as well as a room for our son, Jonathan. The plan is cruciform, echoing the symmetry of the villa itself.
First Floor Plan
Proposed Open Plan Interior
I completed work on the studio apartment for my father by 1986 and embarked upon the construction of the modification at the end of that year. I was doing all of the construction work myself as well as maintaining a full-time job at the University of Auckland. To keep costs down I used recycled materials, obtained from the numerous demolition yards around the city (where I spent many Saturdays). We took out a second mortgage to fund the construction and then, in 1987, the Market crashed. Our first mortgage interest rate increased to 19.5% and our second mortgage to 21.5%. I began doing consulting design work (on top of the University job and the construction) to pay the bills. It was a hopeless task that took its emotional toll on the family. Late in 1987, Claire and I separated, leaving the work incomplete. I finished the work that needed to be done and moved out.