The homes of the fu­ture are al­ready here

Kiwi ar­chi­tects and de­sign­ers say strong trends are emerg­ing, and we’re not talk­ing ‘favourite colours’. Colleen Hawkes re­ports.

Nelson Mail - - Summer -

Colour and fur­ni­ture trends come and go al­most as fast as you can say ‘‘The Block NZ’’, but ar­chi­tec­tural trends take a lot longer to evolve.

How­ever, there are key fac­tors in­flu­enc­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture and in­te­rior de­sign of our homes, and changes are al­ready hap­pen­ing.

And yes, the hous­ing short­age in our big cities and the high cost of build­ing are two key in­flu­ences.

Lance and Ni­cola Herbst of Herbst Ar­chi­tects in Auck­land, who won the Sir Ian Ath­field Hous­ing Award in the 2018 NZIA awards, say we can ex­pect to see more medi­um­den­sity hous­ing projects un­der way over the next year.

‘‘In Auck­land, for ex­am­ple, the Uni­tary Plan has cre­ated new zones that al­low for more dense hous­ing on the pe­riph­ery of the city,’’ says Lance Herbst. ‘‘We are see­ing a lot more sub­ur­ban ter­race houses that dif­fer from the tra­di­tional mod­els in Syd­ney and Mel­bourne in that they are taller and slightly closer together.

‘‘Sim­i­larly, we are see­ing more low-level [as op­posed to high-rise] apart­ment devel­op­ments. The apart­ment model is still rel­a­tively new to New Zealand – it was ini­tially rental ac­com­mo­da­tion for stu­dents, but we have seen a ma­tur­ing of that mar­ket.’’

Ar­chi­tect Craig South of Cy­mon All­frey Ar­chi­tec­ture in Christchurch pre­dicts we will see more ‘‘shell devel­op­ments’’, sim­i­lar to a scheme he has seen in Mel­bourne. Buy­ers sign up for an apart­ment while it is still just a shell that they can then cus­tomise to suit their needs.

‘‘A young fam­ily might re­quire three be­d­rooms in a 150 squareme­tre shell, while a re­tired cou­ple may pre­fer a sin­gle big suite and an ex­tra-large liv­ing space for en­ter­tain­ing.’’

South also says clients have a de­sire for no-main­te­nance prop­er­ties. He says the cedar weath­er­board phe­nom­e­non of the past five years may be on the way out – peo­ple don’t want to be re-stain­ing their house ev­ery three years to keep ‘‘the look’’.

But while we will con­tinue to see more pre­fab­ri­cated el­e­ments, don’t ex­pect to see too much change in ma­te­ri­als. In the wake of the leaky homes scan­dal, ar­chi­tects of­ten don’t want to risk a new tech­nol­ogy, pre­fer­ring to to stick with tried-andtrue ma­te­ri­als, such as weath­er­boards, brick and metal cladding sys­tems.

How­ever, the use of in­no­va­tive ma­te­ri­als, such as CLT (cross­lam­i­nated tim­ber) and SIP (struc­turally in­su­lated pan­els) is more about the re­li­a­bil­ity of sup­ply.

There are some key vis­ual changes we can ex­pect to see com­ing off the draw­ing boards this year, in­clud­ing a no­tice­able move to­wards brick­work, and arches.

‘‘It’s been a long time since we saw arches and bar­rel-vault roofs,’’ says Lance Herbst. ‘‘But the arch is ev­ery­where, in a big way – so far, I have re­sisted. But it is nice to see brick­work com­ing in again.’’

The award-win­ning team from Cy­mon All­frey Ar­chi­tec­ture in Christchurch, who won the ADNZ Supreme House of the Year Award in 2018, is more focused on sharper sculp­tural forms. The house has be­come art, and more of­ten, there’s an el­e­ment of play­ful­ness.

‘‘It’s all about ex­cite­ment,’’ says South. ‘‘We have been work­ing on sculp­tural ar­chi­tec­tural projects for a few years now and there’s more to come. Of course, func­tion is im­por­tant, but there’s no rea­son you can’t have a bit of fun with ar­chi­tec­ture at the same time.

‘‘That play­ful­ness can come from the shapes and spa­ces within a house, the high ceil­ings and the pitch of the roof – all these things can make the jour­ney through the house more in­ter­est­ing.

‘‘We have clients now telling us they don’t want square rooms.’’

Con­trol­ling the en­vi­ron­ment

Adapt­abil­ity re­mains a key fo­cus for de­sign­ers. ‘‘It’s all about con­trol­ling the en­vi­ron­ment,’’ says Herbst. ‘‘The New Zealand cli­mate is fast chang­ing – we can get four sea­sons in one day and we need to be able to adapt a house to suit pre­vail­ing winds.’’

The ar­chi­tect says there are a lot more mov­ing parts in a house as screens come into play. ‘‘The ar­chi­tec­ture comes out of that need. All of these el­e­ments are quite strong, visu­ally.

‘‘And it comes from the de­sire to en­gage with na­ture; we are de­sign­ing homes that al­low peo­ple to be out­side all the time. It’s the mod­ern way of liv­ing and it’s be­come the norm. The days of the big glass box and an air con­di­tion­ing unit are gone.’’

To­day it’s all about sus­tain­abil­ity, but Herbst says it’s no longer a ‘‘knee-jerk re­ac­tion’’ to the cause. Rather, it’s about com­mon sense and pas­sive de­sign. Houses are very well in­su­lated and de­signed to let the sun in dur­ing win­ter but not in sum­mer, when good cross ven­ti­la­tion comes into play.

‘‘Sus­tain­abil­ity is not a one-word an­swer. Ev­ery­thing we do is a value judg­ment as to what is the best so­lu­tion,’’ Herbst says. The ar­chi­tect says many houses are now de­signed to ac­com­mo­date so­lar pan­els, either im­me­di­ately or in the fu­ture.’’

Many home­own­ers are nail­ing down their so­lar en­ergy needs for the next 20 years with So­larcity. The com­pany re­cently launched the so­larZero ser­vice in­stalling free so­lar pan­els and bat­ter­ies for home­own­ers in re­turn for a 20-year fixed en­ergy bill.

Al­ready, 3000 homes are gen­er­at­ing 13.6GWh of elec­tric­ity each year – enough to power a small town – and CEO An­drew Booth de­scribes it as a ‘‘vir­tual power sta­tion project’’ that can re­turn power to the na­tional grid. Craig South says Cy­mon All­frey Ar­chi­tects’ clients are also want­ing to fu­ture-proof their homes, fre­quently re­quest­ing so­lar pan­els, and want­ing to en­sure their heat­ing sys­tems are com­pat­i­ble with so­lar en­ergy.

‘‘Peo­ple are a lot more fa­mil­iar with cli­mate change and that is start­ing to im­pact the de­sign briefs we get,’’ says South. ‘‘Even main­stream clients can see the ben­e­fits of well-in­su­lated, well­ven­ti­lated spa­ces.’’ Charg­ers for elec­tric cars are also be­com­ing more com­mon.

Home in­te­ri­ors

When it comes to in­te­ri­ors, to­day it’s

all about at­ten­tion to de­tail and com­fort, says Auck­land in­te­rior de­signer Sonya Cot­ter.

‘‘Clients will pay for com­fort,’’ she says. ‘‘And they will spend the ex­tra dol­lar to get some­thing that will last. Peo­ple are hun­ker­ing down and plan­ning to stay where they are for a while, so they want their home to feel com­fort­able and homely.

‘‘To­day, it’s about beau­ti­ful pieces, things you love and cher­ish. We no longer want to clut­ter up our spa­ces as we did af­ter the min­i­mal­ist look was over. We are show­ing our per­son­al­ity more in the things we put into our homes, rather than cre­at­ing a home for the next per­son who buys it.’’

Cot­ter says ‘‘fur­ni­ture is­lands’’ are a key trend. So­fas and chairs no longer cling to the edges of a room – to­day they sit in the mid­dle, and they of­ten pro­vide 360-de­gree seat­ing that al­lows for dif­fer­ent in­ter­ac­tions and con­nec­tions.

‘‘Ev­ery­thing is mod­u­lar, and nothing is fixed,’’ the de­signer says. ‘‘Fur­ni­ture can be moved and should work wher­ever it lands. The mono­lithic cof­fee ta­ble has gone; now we have a lay­er­ing of side ta­bles.’’

Cot­ter says curved so­fas are es­pe­cially in vogue as they aid the cir­cu­la­tion through the liv­ing spa­ces. In the com­ing year, we can also ex­pect to see more tas­sels and fring­ing, more beige and brown with dark greys, and more in­ter­est­ing grains and pat­terns in stone.

Multi award-win­ning NKBA de­signer Mal Cor­boy be­lieves we have never had so many choices, with new ma­te­ri­als and de­signs read­ily avail­able al­most as soon as they ap­pear over­seas. New Zealand has caught up, the de­signer says.

‘‘I was in Mi­lan for the big kitchen fair this year and found it all pretty ho-hum, and that’s be­cause what we are do­ing here is cut­ting edge, and our man­u­fac­ture is as good as any­where in the world. A few years ago, it would be two years be­fore a new prod­uct or idea found is way to New Zealand; now it’s six weeks.’’

But Cor­boy has no­ticed a move away from min­i­mal­ist kitchens. ‘‘Peo­ple are not look­ing to Europe for de­sign ideas as much as they once did. Now they are get­ting on so­cial me­dia, such as Pin­ter­est, and see­ing kitchens in Amer­ica and other coun­tries, and they are want­ing a softer look, such as a Cape Cod or Hamp­tons style.’’

The de­signer says peo­ple are also tak­ing sus­tain­abil­ity into ac­count and are look­ing for eco-friendly al­ter­na­tives in their paints and ma­te­ri­als. Wood ve­neers are ev­ery­where, of­ten used as ac­cents, but solid tim­ber is not in vogue. ‘‘I haven’t de­signed a solid-wood kitchen for years,’’ says Cor­boy.

The big­gest change, which will ac­cel­er­ate this year, is the move to­wards porce­lain sur­faces that look like gran­ite and mar­ble. As they are lighter than gran­ite and mar­ble, they pro­vide many more de­sign op­por­tu­ni­ties.

‘‘Porce­lain is not just for bench­tops,’’ says Cor­boy. ‘‘It can be used for door and drawer fronts, and walls, which we could never do eas­ily with gran­ite or mar­ble be­cause of the weight is­sues.’’

‘‘It feels as though peo­ple are us­ing the kitchen more,’’ the de­signer notes. ‘‘I can re­mem­ber do­ing kitchens a few years ago and I would go back and it was easy to tell the kitchens had never been used.’’

Cor­boy be­lieves part of the in­creased in­ter­est can be put down to the huge rise in pop­u­lar­ity of re­al­ity shows on TV, such as My Kitchen Rules and MasterChef Aus­tralia.

‘‘For the same rea­son we are be­ing asked to sup­ply more spe­cial­ist ap­pli­ances, such as a sous vide (for cook­ing vac­uum-packed food slowly in a wa­ter bath) and in­duc­tion cook­tops.’’

And what about the In­ter­net of Things (IoT)? In­tel­li­gent re­frig­er­a­tors are now com­mon­place. That’s just the start. An­a­lyst Gart­ner es­ti­mates that 20.4 bil­lion IoT de­vices will be in use by 2020, up from 8.4 bil­lion IoT de­vices last year, which in turn was 31 per cent more than the pre­vi­ous year.

That trend is in­flu­enc­ing the de­sign of our home in­te­ri­ors – while peo­ple liv­ing in a house want to re­main ‘‘con­nected’’, many de­sign­ers are pro­vid­ing break­out spa­ces that pro­vide a de­gree of sepa­ra­tion for chil­dren and teenagers us­ing their own de­vices. In­vis­i­ble charg­ing sta­tions are of­ten built into a kitchen bench. The smart home has never looked smarter.

Above: Herbst Ar­chi­tects’ Kawakawa House at Piha has a dark­stained cedar rain­screen to en­sure the house blends in with its sur­round­ings. Left: The trend for brick­work is ex­pected to con­tinue. This is ar­chi­tect Guy Tar­rant’s own NZIA award-win­ning home in Pt Che­va­lier, Auck­land.

Above: Sculp­tural, play­ful forms are a fo­cus for Cy­mon All­frey Ar­chi­tec­ture, fol­low­ing on from ma­jor wins for houses with such fea­tures in 2018. In­set: Arches and bar­rel-vault roofs are on the draw­ing boards once again. This house, de­signed by Mitchell & Stout in 1988, re­ceived the En­dur­ing Ar­chi­tec­ture award at the 2018 NZIA awards.

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