Prominent New Zealand architect Roger Walker has some important advice for every New Zealander thinking about building a new home.
‘When it comes to who is going to design it, make sure you consider the alternatives and all your options,’ he says.
Roger is referring to the situation in New Zealand where the house building market is saturated with group home building companies promising a ready designed home with lifestyle and set price packages - some even throwing in an overseas holiday to boot.
‘An architectural designer could provide you with - for the same price - a much better planned house with useful rooms that feel a lot larger and don’t have all that wasted space.’
Roger says, when you plan to spend a good part of your life in this home, it’s very important to get it right from the outset.
‘When you approach an architectural designer or architect, get them in at ground level from the very start and say, for example, “tell me what I can get for $300,000” and enter into a dialogue that way.’
Roger Walker graduated in architecture from the University of Auckland in the 1960s. Like his compatriot, the late Ian Athfield, Roger is known as a bit of a rock star in the industry and is celebrated for his unconventional design approach. He has more than 500 built designs, many of which are characterised by round windows, witches hat roofs and bright colours.
As a boy growing up, his family home was far less inspiring.
‘I grew up in a suburban house’, Roger says, ‘a brick and tile home in Hamilton. It was designed all the wrong way around. My poor mother had to work in the kitchen that was part of the entrance corridor and the sunniest room in the house was the toilet.’
Roger says back then his parents had no other alternatives and his family made the best of the situation. His parents lived in the home for 60 years. Roger and his brother went on to design and build an investment home for their Mum and Dad.
Today, Roger sees architects and designers designing less than 5% of new houses – a figure he describes as ‘pathetically inadequate and it needs to be addressed’.
‘Well-designed medium density housing is the key. I think more young people are starting to realise the quarter acre paradise their parents might have started off with is no longer possible. People are starting to look at the alternatives and that’s where we need to head.’
Roger Walker will be discussing Affordable Architecture – an insight into making architecture accessible to the widest possible audience at ADNZ’s 2017 National Conference – Thriving in the Future – 26-28 October. Early bird pricing applies until the end of September so book now; http://adnzconference.co.nz/