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A Natural Beauty

This week, Defign sat down with the home’s designer, ADNZ member Richard Wilden, to hear about what makes this design so successful.


The client brief was to provide a contemporary home for a family with teenagers, while making the most of the site and its exposed weather conditions.

Richard's inspiration was drawn from the natural landscape, and this is reflected in the strong linear layout of the home.

A series of simple offset cubes allow for a clear separation between adult and teenage living areas. Each room is flooded with natural light, and strategic orientation allows for breath-taking views, all the while offering a sense of privacy.

The theme of natural light continues through the large open-plan family living and dining area which Richard describes as the 'social hub' of the home - this is where family and guests can gather to enjoy each other's company. Richard goes on to explain that the "floor plan allows for a strong link to the landscape both physically and visually - embracing the idea of a borrowed landscape." Separation of the house and garage minimised the building footprint and allowed for the house to recede into the hillside.

The house took two years to design, which Richard says was a challenge in itself.

"The design process took a long time, and while the conceptual ideas remained fixed, the details changed many times. Of course, while this was challenging, it did give plenty of time to get it right."

The house's unique and seamless relationship with its environment is evident in the way the home sits comfortably on the site. There is a sense of belonging, right from when you first arrive and are greeted with the grand entrance through a sea of tussock.

This design is anchored by the large timber post and beam which is complemented by a retaining wall running the length of the home. Drawing on the surrounding landscape, the exposed timber beams and concrete block retaining wall enhance the sense of raw nature and draw the outside in, adding texture and interest to an otherwise minimal interior. The floorboards are a mirror of the lowered ceiling, which provides a clear visual connection to all parts of the house.

Richard says he enjoyed the opportunity to start the design process with a clean slate.

"This enabled me to create a house that best suited the client's needs, and one that best suited the site. This is not often the case, as many clients have a preconception of what they want, and some have trouble letting go of these preconceptions. From the early concepts with this design, it was clear it was going to be one of those career-defining homes. I have to say that the combination of a visionary client with such a good site doesn't happen often."

Richard has been a professional member of ADNZ for nine years. As a sole practitioner, he says membership has been a very important aspect of his business.

"Being a member of ADNZ has been a worthwhile part of my work for a number of reasons. As a sole practitioner, the contact with peers, and the network support is very valuable to me. There is also a lot of backing in terms of running a successful practice. Being a member has provided me with the support I need, so that I can focus on the architectural design work I am passionate about"

ADNZ makes keeping on top of business practices manageable, producing high quality business templates and contractual documents for member use. The organisation ensures its members have access to support and advice when they need it, along with an online CPD record, ADNZ online Chat, regularly updated terms of engagement and other must-have documentation.

You can check out Richard's ADNZ profile here: