SIPs Installation

It has been a long time since the initial blog on the SIPs house in Wanaka, so I thought I would continue the story and show the ease of the installation of the SIPs panels.

01 CNA SIPS individual panels

This first image shows the smaller individual SIPs panels that were small enough to bring to site by trailer. With fixings through the OSB sheathing into both sides of the bottom plate, these panels were very solid in themselves and didn’t really need the bracing.

02 CNA SIPS arriving on site

All the large preassembled SIPs wall panels are delivered to site on a single load of a Hiab.

03 CNA Unloading SIPS with Hiab

The panels are drilled to provide two balanced lifting points which makes positioning of panels easy for installation.

04 CNA Foam to bottom plate

Before each panel is lowered into position, expanding foam is placed along the bottom plate to fill any voids between the bottom plate and the bottom of the rigid urethane insulation core of the SIPs panels.

CNA air seal to SIPS panel joint

Along with the expanding foam to the bottom plate, a bead of sealant is placed against adding panels to form an air seal between the panels.  We did not rely on this air seal completely as every panel joint was sealed with Proclima Tescon Extoseal tape prior to adding any internal bates and linings.

06 CNA check before initial tacking

Each panel was carefully aligned to be true and plumb prior to temporary fixing.  Final fixing of panels to bottom plate and adding panels occurs when all panels are in place.

08 CNA SIPS panel alignment

The hiab operator was quite familiar with the installation process. While the builders were checking for true and plumb panel alignment and temporarily fixing the panels, the hiab operator had another panel lined up and ready to be lowered into place.

09 CNA SIPS panel in place

The accuracy of the panels was outstanding, this panel simply slid into place and did not require any adjustment. Panels with raking heads also fitted together with a high level of accuracy.

10 CNA SIPS panel splice

Where walls were too large to be transported as one, individual sections could be spliced together on site.  The Kingspan Tek system has a smaller piece or ‘splice’ of Sips panel that fits within the depth of the insulation core which is then fixed to the two adjoining Sips panels. This provides a very strong and easy connection but more importantly it provides a complete thermal barrier of urethane with no thermal bridging between inside and out.

11 CNA SIPS panels installed

The house comes together very quickly and gives an immediate idea of how the windows and doors frame the various views. Structure, insulation and sheathing all in one.

13 CNA SIPS house after an afternoons installation

The installation of these panels took a single afternoon.  The following day all panels were checked and adjusted where needed prior to final fixing.

15 CNA SIPS Double top plate

Following this timber framed elements were added. This included framing for items such as bay windows, roof beams, internal walls and the addition of a continuous top plate.

14 CNA SIPS add internal framing

With the addition of framing, we had to start thinking about achieving a complete air tight environment. Because of the low pitch of the roof we opted for a traditional timber framed structure.  Any external timber framing achieved air tightness by the addition of an Proclima ‘Intello’ humidity variable moisture control layer.  Here you can see a section of Proclima Intel Plus connection strip which will run over the top of all internal timber walls.

19 CNA SIPS Insulated lintel


The SIPs panels are easier to seal. The builders drill holes around all panel connections and inject expanding foam to fill any air gaps. Then these holes and holes for any lifting eyes are taped with Proclima Tescon tape as per the photo above.  All joints between panels (in line or at corners) are also tapped to ensure an airtight seal.  In the above photo you can see that the lintels were held back from the external face  so that when the top plate is installed the entire lintel can be covered with a layer of high grade insulation minimising thermal bridging across the face of the lintel.

17 CNA SIPS Box beam

With the addition of plywood box beams, lintels and verandah posts the bones of the house are complete.  The area of external timber framing is a storeroom that adjoins the triple carport. Electrical services are bought into the building at this point and with the reduced need for insulation to this room, timber framing became an option.

Situation Vacant: Experienced Architectural Technician

We are looking for an experienced Architectural Technician to join us in our Wanaka studio.

We are a small design based NZIA practice with passion and focus on site-specific, energy efficient, contemporary residential projects mainly in the Queenstown Lakes District and Central Otago, but also further afield in NZ.  We work with both NZ and overseas clients who want to achieve the ultimate kiwi lifestyle.  We take a client-centric approach with personalised service and open communication, all within a creative and collaborative environment.  Current projects include residential and commercial projects in Wanaka, Queenstown Central Otago and Wellington.  We love living amongst the lakes and mountains and are avid skiers and mountain bikers. Our studio has great views to the mountains and we are located within walking distance to the lake and the town centre.

Your role will be to produce clear thorough and concise contract & tender documentation.  You will liaise directly with clients, sub-consultants, councils, suppliers and contractors.

We will consider an outgoing person with the following skills & attributes;

  • Confident, well-organised, professional manner, with good communication skills.
  • Friendly, honest and with good interpersonal skills and with a good sense of humour.
  • Imaginative, enthusiastic and motivated, with a can do attitude.
  • The ability to problem solve and apply logical thinking.
  • A high level of interest and understanding of how materials and components are put together, melding beautiful design with ‘build-ability’.
  • Good knowledge of environmentally sensitive construction, sustainability and energy efficient design.
  • Comprehensive technical knowledge of building systems and construction techniques and methodologies.
  • Thorough understanding of the NZ Building Code, NZ standards and regulatory processes.
  • Excellent graphic presentation skills, both hand-drawn and computer generated.
  • A proficient operator of ArchiCad as both a BIM modeling tool and 3D presentation tool.
  • The ability to work collaboratively as a team player but also to work independently showing initiative and good time management to steer a project from concept stage through to physical delivery.

This is a full time salaried position so permanent NZ residency is essential. There is some scope for flexibility in working hours enabling you to be inspired, able to enjoy your work and achieve a good work / life balance.

You will work with assistance and support from both a registered architect and the practice director.  Ongoing professional development is encouraged and fostered.  We pay professional memberships and offer support with continuing professional development or assistance toward NZRAB registration.

Good remuneration appropriate to experience, skills and development.

Please email your CV and 4 or 5 examples of your work by 9th January 2017 to;

The Practice Manager
[email protected]

Situation Vacant

Architecture Graduate or Registered Architect

I have filled this position with the appointment of Duncan Barron a graduate from Victoria University of Wellington. Duncan not only has great computer presentation skills but brings a sense of build-ability to his creative ideas. Many graduates presented great imagery but often with little sense of structure and construction. It is great to think outside the square but it is also important to be able to progress these ideas into physical reality. Equally important as a commercial employer is to progress these ideas into a economic and functional reality.

Duncan also brings in interesting ideas from his thesis on Suburban Infill for Wellington that are equally applicable to all suburban areas of New Zealand; see an extract below;

Since widespread private car ownership became the norm, low density detached housing has become embedded in a New Zealand culture that reveres the traditional suburban home. However, as the population of New Zealand’s major cities continue to grow and experience demographical shifts, it is realised that the current trend in low density detached housing does not provide a sustainable solution to meet our future housing needs. My thesis explored how row housing can be integrated into a suburban context to meet the demographical needs and suburban amenity associated to the traditional detached home. Row housing has provided the needs for dense residential habitation across the world for many centuries. Despite this, row housing is a relatively new form of housing to New Zealand, with very few Wellington developments located in suburbia. Medium density housing developments are becoming increasingly important as an alternative housing type to intensify existing areas and contain the proliferation of suburban sprawl.

With the majority of Wellingtonians choosing to reside in the suburbs, the comparative nature of increased dwelling density in row housing goes against the tradition and ethos of low density detached home ownership. As a result, there is a strong conflict with the integration of row housing, compounded by public resistance and market aversion to this housing type. When considered in context, it is acknowledged that row housing invariably involves a degree of compromise in seeking to identify with local traditions of low density detached housing. Three key interconnected design issues are identified: the accommodation of internal garaging and car access, the relationship between internal living space and outdoor space and the degree of individuality expressed to each house.

Old School

My family and I took a holiday over Christmas and most of January visiting the Hawkes Bay and Gisborne region. It was interesting to see how the regional architecture responded to the climate and local built environment. Staying in Taradale the urban fabric was tightly knit but with large trees which helped give character where there was no view and shade from the hot Hawkes Bay climate. In some respects the architecture of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s responded to excessive summer heat by using smaller openings, large overhangs, and small courtyards in a similar manner that we are employing here in Wanaka to deal both with excessive summer heat and to deal with heat loss, frosts and winds in the Winter.  We are inspired by overseas architecture that looks great in the coffee table books and magazines, but even here in young NZ there are many lessons to be learnt from the past that we need to keep reviewing as we are presented with new technologies and patterns of living. Although advances in construction present new opportunities, are these always appropriate to the local issues?

Another example of looking to the past seen on our trip was the evidence in the 1931 Napier earthquake and the Art Deco rebuild of this city. Many issues like collapsed brick parapets & ornamental features where all well documented in 1931 and we have seen a disastrous repeat of that in the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes, we are aware of this but what action will the rst of NZ take?

Napier responded to immediate needs with a ‘pop up’ retail mall in a city park which we have again seen in Christchurch. I also imagine we are going to see a similar response of low scale simplified buildings that are built out of a desperate need for space and built during tough economic times.

Another example of missing or perhaps ignoring the clues of the past is the issue of flood waters from Lake Wanaka. The two remaining residential properties within the township of Wanaka (one now remaining since January 2012) were both elevated from the existing ground level by at least 1 metre. Town developed around these buildings but with no respect to the historical clues that these two earlier buildings had. Now the township is in a difficult position where some buildings have considered flood levels and others have not and it is nearly impossible to rectify this with ad hoc development so we have to deal with the consequences whereas we could have designed around this.

I recently acquired a series of Renovation books on Villas; Bungalows; Art Deco; 1940-1960s and 1970s produced by BRANZ which detail the development of various residential styles and their method and materials of construction.  Many of the details of these styles of building have been superseded by new aesthetic requirements but the practicalities and functionality of some of these details should not be forgotten and the limitations of their construction can constantly be reviewed in light of new material developments. Part of my review process comes about from living in new houses and realising the limitations of details that have now become commonplace. I question my old default response of level thresholds and slabs on grade, while these may be the right solution in some cases, some of the older architecture may provide clues on why for alternative detailing may be appropriate.

At the recent NZIA conference in Auckland a slide was shown of some graffiti stating ‘’Question Everything’’ with a second scribble below responding ’’WHY’’

Wanaka Town Centre Character Guideline

The Wanaka Town Centre Character Guideline was formally adopted by the QLDC Strategy Committee last Tuesday so it is now an operative document. Although it has no statutory standing it will inform future versions of the district plan particularly in terms of bulk and height limits within the town centre.

You can view the document here.

My hope is that it will help tie in all the QLDC capital expenditure in and around the town centre with a common language and quality of elements and materials. There are two recent examples of where this would have been beneficial but unfortunately has not been carried through by the council itself;

  1. Due to delays in the roundabout on Ardmore and Brownston Streets, the council shifted the budget to the burying of power cables along Brownston Street, which also required new light poles along Brownston Street. The Town Centre Character Guideline references timber light poles (the Wilson pole) in at least three sections noting the importance of consistency in fittings that are non-period specific. However the trend to expedite the now at the expense of the future prevailed as the community board approved the council’s proposal to use octagonal steel poles that the guideline had specifically identified as being phased out. The reason given was that the timber poles are more expensive but I believe the small number of lights needed that this would have been a minimal cost in the scheme of things and somehow QLDC found the budget for these as these timber light poles have been utilized along Frankton Road leading into Queenstown. How can the council expect developers to buy into a better quality environment for the town centre when they are not prepared to do it themselves?
  2. The second example is the controversial speed humps along lower Ardmore Street. These have been on the radar for some time after being fleshed out by the Transport Strategy and the Town Centre Strategy so there is no issue whether they should be there or not. The issue I have is that the Town Centre Strategy and the Guidelines both identified that there needs to be both a comprehensive masterplan and consistency of materials and design. Neither the masterplan nor standard detailed designs of raised pedestrian crossings have been completed.

The council may argue that the Character Guidelines were not complete when this work was scheduled but this work has been in the pipeline for some time and the council need to fully adopt them if they expect the private developers to follow. The guidelines and strategies developed by the council are great, the big challenge is getting the various council department heads down to the worker on the street to buy into this vision, quality outcomes have now joined the timelines and budgets with equal importance.


The much used term ‘Sustainability’ has been a great driver for awareness of the resource and environmental issues that face current and future generations but I believe its misuse or overuse is starting to dilute not only what is possible but what we should all be doing.  Technically architecture (as we know it) is not a sustainable activity unless we can utilize renewable resources from within our  ‘fair earth share’ of ecological footprint, currently about 1.7 hectares per person on earth (see NZ Footprint project by Otago Polytechnic Centre for Sustainability).

This may be an impossible task but we need to seriously review how we build particularly in terms of embodied energy of materials, size of building for purpose, durability and adaptability. Sticking a solar panel on your house or marketing your existing building products under the label of ‘Future Proof Building’ does not make you sustainable.

For example; in the Houses (NZ) Winter 2011 magazine there is a feature on a new contemporary residence with a designers note that ‘’ Sustainability was also important, and the house utilizes solar hot water and rainwater recycling’’.  These are great things to do but this is for a single bedroom 200m2 house with full height glazing to about 70% of the exterior walls with air conditioning as a heat source.

Also the designers behind the new Wanaka Lakes Health Centre claim ‘sustainable design was a key consideration with approved green build materials and energy efficient services design…’  Sustainability doesn’t come into my mind when I view that the new building in effect is a large shed with a very deep floor plate (30 x 54 metres?) that relies on mechanical services and light .  There was so much scope to employ natural ventilation and lighting rather than rely on ‘energy efficient’ mechanical services; the costs in allowing openings within the plan would offset the costs for increasing the size of services to create an artificial environment and would have greatly reduced the running costs over the life of the building.

So the Sustainable banner comes out again and again but I think we need to try a little harder than this if we truly want to work within our limited resources whilst creating architecture that truely delights.

Wanaka Town Centre Guidelines

Well it has been some time since I have made a Blog entry. My excuse is that not only do I have a hectic family life within this piece of paradise, I have been quite busy with changing from PC to Mac computers and completing a variety of projects ranging from landscape features, remodeling of older cribs; extensions to 1950’s brick houses and a new build residence designed to withstand a Design Wind speed of 216km/hour. I am really looking forward to several of these projects starting on site once temperatures warm up in the spring.

I have also been busy as a member of the Queenstown Lakes District Council steering group for the development of The Wanaka Town Centre Guidelines. The guidelines were contracted out to some urban designers from Auckland who traditionally produce very good work.  Unfortunately in this case they prepared a guideline that was very wordy with quite generic guidelines that didn’t demonstrate a local understanding of what makes Wanaka different. The steering group was quite disappointed, as we had hoped for something quite graphic and inspirational, instead we had abundance of words that were hard work to read through, let alone be inspirational.

After little progress with 4 drafts over a 6 month period QLDC took over the writing of the document and with the help of the local steering committee have produced a document that is specific to Wanaka and should help both building designers and developers produce good buildings that are sympathetic to the communities desires. I think it is a good demonstration that local knowledge is absolutely key, otherwise you will end up with a product that is not relevant no matter how clever the creators are.

Hopefully QLDC will look at bit closer to home in the future; there is good experience in Wanaka. The Guideline has been out for public comment and can be found on the QLDC website.

Hill House

A precast concrete panel house designed to withstand a harsh sub alpine environment while making the most of passive solar gain and ventilation.


Proposed Peninsula Bay House for Stonewood Homes

Rural Zoning Discussion Document

The Queenstown Lakes District Council recently gave the community the opportunity to comment on the success of the current Rural Zoning. I am primarily concerned with the Rural Living Zones and in particular the Rural Residential Zone.

The district plan objective 8.1.1.i outlines that ‘’All Rural Zones have particular amenity and environmental values, which are important to rural people. These include privacy, rural outlook, spaciousness……’’

I do not believe that the Rural Residential Zone is achieving this objective, particularly as the bulk of Rural Residential Subdivisions are creating lots that are predominantly towards the minimum lot size (4,000m² to 4,500m²).

It would seem logical that the Rural Residential Zone exists to provide a buffer between suburban and rural areas, a halfway density that in some sense gives the appearance of an open rural area without necessarily allowing enough or using the land for agricultural/ horticultural production.

In the text following, I have quickly compiled some examples from Wanaka which demonstrate that the Rural Residential character is more suburban than rural, with most properties maximizing the house size and then constructing cheaper sheds and garages. Many of these areas appear more dense than the older township zoning of nearby Alberttown. As the built form dominates the landscape no amount of mitigation will reduce this (including controls on ‘gateways’ colour and soft landscaping). The majority of the examples shown below directly abut rural or reserve areas so in effect we have a suburban edge abutting our open space.

The above images are on Aubrey Road behind Mount Iron. Often the view is a constant line of houses with limited breaks between and few view-shafts beyond. Of note this area still has many building plots yet to be constructed upon.

The above images are at Clan Mac Road outside the outer growth boundary directly adjoining Rural land and highly visible from the State Highway.

Balneaves Road again outside the outer growth boundary directly adjoining Rural land and the state highway. The lots in the foreground are yet to be built upon so the density will increase.

A possible solution to these issues is to move away from 2 dwellings per hectare to 1 dwelling per hectare, i.e. away from a minimum of 4,000m² to 10,000m².
As an example of this below I have shown a rural residential property at the Northern side of Mount Iron with a lot size of 9,090m². This has allowed the rural character to remain and softens the edge to the reserve zone beyond. The property is large enough to graze several horses and has grapes to the rear.

This is a far more appropriate buffer against Rural General; Rural Lifestyle and open reserve land (DOC etc) than the density currently permitted by the Rural Residential Zoning.

Reviewing the density will have far more effect than trying to mitigate development by planting and materials/colours (although these can be successful). If you design the character of rural areas too much, it can become a bit precious and move away from the diversity that can be seen by rural living areas throughout the country.

As a region we have to look at intensification and consolidation of residential areas without this spilling over the rural landscape like a blanket. The current Rural Residential zone is currently allowing the later.

Back on board

It has been awhile since I have made a post. Google stopped supporting my Blog format so now I have moved over to WordPress.

I am in two minds as whether this page should be called a blog or maybe just comment/ news as the frequency may be erratic. I frequently have comments to post but are often focused on more important items at hand. I now have a moment’s reprise and the two week long inversion over Wanaka is finally lifting, so all is good.

Three Parks Retail Park and Second Town Centre

The bad news for the community of Wanaka is that the council appointed commissioners have given the green light for the big box second town centre, this is a real shame as it is a completely unimaginative solution to the growth needs of the Upper Clutha’s retail needs, it is the lowest common denominator of retail.

It is no surprise really, having worked closely with the council planning department, it has been apparent for the last four years that this is the direction they have committed all policy towards. In this sense the Plan Change Hearing just satisfied ‘due process’ rather than questioning was this the solution for Wanaka. This is demonstrated by the fact that the hearing had only two commissioners, one who works for the council planning department and another a layperson who is on the councils Wanaka Community Board. I have attended smaller Plan Change Hearings where there have been 5 or more commissioners, each independent and each bringing in their own expertise on infrastructure , planning , policy etc.

The good news is that apparently there are conditions placed on the consent, limiting size of development and conducting ‘health checks’ on the town centre. This is a new concept and how effective it is remains to be seen, I am skeptical as there is no current baseline information on the health of the town centre . There is lots of money to be made developing Greenfield sites, so it will be worth investing in consultants to work around whatever health checks there are.

My only hope is that both market conditions and market competitors will put this proposal at bay for some time, in the short term expect an over sized Mitre 10 or Mitre 10 Mega and a Nichols Graden Centre in this area. Hopefully there will be a change in retail trends over time that make this cookie cutter retail park solution unviable. Local developer Roger Gardiner spoke to a number of national corporate retailers prior to the plan change hearing and they noted that Wanaka was not on the radar yet, and even if it was they would want to be in the existing town centre even if it meant adapting to a smaller store. The other positive is that the council are implementing some of the town centre strategy that was developed in 2009; unfortunately the councils coffers have been severely diminished with the current economic conditions. However at least it is underway, and it pre-empts a ‘Main Street’ program on the existing town centre that would usually be implemented after the negative effects of Stand Alone Retail Parks.

Resource Consent Nightmares

Never expect a Resource Consent Application to go smoothly even if you expect it to be a mere formality. A recent application demonstrated this.

A proposal in Queenstown required Resource Consent where on a sloping site we were excavating more material than allowed by the zone threshold. All the relevant information was submitted and approved by the council engineer, only to find that the planner had an issue with the location of the building. Although the design complied with the District Plan in regard to setbacks, the planner noted that recently it was council policy to take the setback from the inside of a right of way.

Nowhere in the District Plan was this demonstrated, so I asked to see the Council Policy Statement or Notice that surely all the planners must have received to implement this policy, but no there was no such thing. This is a problematic, if much effort, time and expense is invested in a design that satisfies the Rules of the District Plan but is then stopped by the Councils own in-house set of rules, I can see some massive bun fights are in the making. Fortunately our only infringement in the ’revised’ setback was the garage, which is a ‘controlled’ activity. This was a relatively easy addition to the resource consent to satisfy, or was it? Unfortunately no, the council saw the infringement as dangerous as the garage might cast a shadow upon the Right of Way that serves one adjoining neighbour. So more effort was required to prove that in summer there may be some shadow but in winter when frost or snow may build up, the garage did not cast a shadow. We got there in the end but the additional time and money involved was entirely unpredictable and unpleasant for my clients.

Tried and Tested

After formally studying architectural history for many years and constantly reading books on architecture, it is great to come across architects that I have not heard of, architects who have not made the mainstream but have a body of work that is quite inspirational and refreshing.

Recently I stumbled across the work of British born Laurie Baker (1917-2007), who practiced during the height of modernism but found his own path and produced contextural organic and energy efficient architecture.

Although he was a humanitarian living and working in India, he produced a set of ‘Architectural Principals’ that strikes accord with many of the methods and principals that I like to apply within my own local context. Below I have attached his Architectual Principals from a website dedicated to him and his work

While it is fantastic that the general public is developing an awareness of sustainability in architecture, it can be frustrating to see companies behind the greenwash promoting ”cutting edge” ideas and methodologies that have been tried and tested principals for some time. Finding Laurie Baker’s work demonstrates that sustainability has long been a part of good design, something that many architects throughout New Zealand and been achieving and tring to promote for some time.

Design File Sharing

There has been a revolutionary release of ArchiCad (13) which is my BIM enabled CAD software. The significant feature is an upgrade to the TEAMWORK capabilities where DELTA-server™ technology enables users to work on the same project simultaneously. There is no overlap as only one user can work on a given element at one time, while other users can visualize these changes as they happen. Only the changed elements are exchanged between the client and the server when the user updates work in that area, there is no waiting time for server synchronization and updated information is exchanged frequently.

So how does this affect a small architects practice like Chris Norman Architecture Ltd? This allows greater flexibility for workload and size of project; which translates to delivering all manner of projects when required. We can seamlessly outsource extra workload to draughting contractors or collaborate on larger or specialty projects with the network of architects we have established throughout New Zealand. We understand a number of Consulting Structural Engineers have started using ArchiCad which is an attractive prospect as the TEAMWORK facility will eliminate project delays experienced exchanging information back and forth between consultants using different software programs.

As a small practice we may not be innovators in technology but we are able to quickly adapt and embrace the latest proven technology.

Three Parks Big Box Retail Park

Yesterday I presented at the Plan Change Hearing for Three Parks in Wanaka.

It is disappointing that a local developer and the Queenstown Lakes District Council would entertain the retail park concept for Wanaka. I think it shows a severe lack of appreciation and understanding of what Wanaka is about. Wanaka is a world class destination that attracts people to a stunning setting that supports a laid back social scene devoid of the consumer mentality. One of the common reasons you hear that people are attracted to live or holiday in Wanaka is that there is a real sense of community and that life is somewhat simpler and easier without the corporate retailers encouraging everybody to keep up with the Joneses.

Splitting the town centre into two and creating separate tourist and local sectors will severely impact on our community. Wanaka needs to maintain its point of difference to Queenstown, having choices is what makes this region unique, Wanaka, Queenstown, Arrowtown and Frankton are all attractions in their own right, it would be foolish to try become a clone of Queenstown.

Shakey Ground

Having grown up in Wellington I am quite used to experiencing earthquakes, once they start I actually find the anticipation of what will happen next quite exciting.

Recent quakes felt in Wanaka have been silent, rolling and long lasting, quite different from the usual rumble and hard shake. Local builders involved in recent repair work comment how modern polymer modified external render on polystyrene has held up much better than the traditional 20mm cement render, so I guess there is one positive for the modern ‘chilly bin’ houses that are spreading around suburbia.

I read with interest that an international group of scientists are looking at drilling 4 to 5km into the South Island Alpine fault to monitor the activity of rock movement prior to an earthquake. The fault generally moves about 27mm a year but the group believe there is a good chance of a major rupture in the next 20 years. They say major quakes can rupture up to 8m and have typically occurred every 200 – 400 years with the last in the alps being in 1717.

The local engineers get a bit of a hard time about some of the engineering that goes into local buildings, but there is a reason for it, how much damage do you want to risk on your investment?

The Weather

My brother always says that if he wanted to talk about the weather he would have called my mum.

But living here at the base of the alps the weather has a massive impact on how we work and play. I have had one of the most enjoyable ski seasons in years, but from one week to the next its either severe winter conditions or warm and spring like. The beginning of the winter was dry with months of frosts reaching -7 degrees C in the early evening, and lately we have had warm sunny days followed by days of rain and snow. It seems we are witnessing changing patterns and extremes in weather the scientists have been predicting. To cope with this our buildings need to be more robust and cleverly designed to provide the durability and comfort that we require. The careful consideration of what materials, mass, insulation and glazing to use and how we place these can provide huge benefits and value for money as well as providing an environment that is pleasing or uplifting.

There is a definite benefit in spending time at the early stage of the design to analyse how the functions and desires of the project will be affected by all the influences on the site. Allowing for the changes in climatic context provide a particular challenge but should be manageable with a bit of thought.


The intention of this blog is to comment on what is happening on the architectural scene here in Wanaka and further afield.

This may concern matters of personal taste, construction, geology, politics, technology and design, generally anything that informs and influences the process of architecture. I hope this is of interest to anyone who wants to build something creative and personal, something that suits their personality and lifestyle without resorting to conventional preconceptions, trends or the cookie cutter solutions typically offered by the industry.