The media is not always kind to millennials in this country, but the vision and expertise of Mat Weir of First Table will see them eating their words, as well as some very delicious dinners around the world.
This innovative and actually useful (because let’s face it, not all of them are) Kiwi start-up is now in three countries and both hemispheres, while working hard on opening in its fourth country this year.
The term win-win is overused, but the First Table concept is genuinely that. It’s like an awesome game of ping pong – the benefits just keep bouncing back between restaurant and diner.
It works like this: participating restaurants release bookable dates on the First Table website. Nabbing the actual first table in the restaurant for that date online enables diners in a party of two to four to eat for half price. The restaurant gets diners into the restaurant early; this encourages other diners into the restaurant.
First Table diners usually get the window seats; the restaurant gets the visual advertising. First Table diners get unhurried service and the food as it should be; the restaurant receives a very positive review. The diner gets to try somewhere new in a cost-effective way; the restaurant is likely to get happy repeat customers paying full price at peak times.
Obtaining a login from the website in New Zealand means you can book First Tables throughout New Zealand, in Australia, London, Bristol and Bath and London in the UK, and Singapore restaurants are soon to be added. There is no membership fee, just an upfront $10 (in New Zealand) when you put your stamp on that First Table online. Mat has aimed for few restrictions, the main one being you can’t book the First Table in the same restaurant twice in row, to spread the opportunities a little wider.
A Queenstown local, Mat started with Queenstown restaurants, followed quickly by Christchurch, where there has been very enthusiastic sign-on both by restaurants and diners. A software developer by trade, he put the concept online himself, as well as doing the sales.
There are now customer and restaurant support and business development managers in New Zealand and Australia and a creative writer in Wellington, plus Mat passed his software development duties onto a new team member. The company employs ten people in Australasia and a mix of locals and Kiwis in the UK.
The First Table philosophy is to be lean and smart: you’ll be smart to join in and lean over your First Table.
“I do truly believe in the importance of design – we sometimes underestimate the power of it,” says Max Capocaccia of MC Architecture Studio.
Fortunately, the judges at the 2017 World Architecture News Awards thoroughly understood the power of Max’s Black Door House’s design, awarding it first prize in the ‘Best Modern Method of Construction’ category, with the comment it “stands as an object of art overlooking the ocean”.
For Max, Black Door House was a favourite project long before it won an international award. It was christened when the original door was reshaped to incorporate the surrounding wall into its form. The door is of course black and towers at 2.9m tall, but it sits within a wall that echoes its geometric design. The curved entrance mirrors the sweep of Pegasus Bay from Whitewash Heads to Amberly Beach. Like an aeroplane wing, its upswept roof provides lift and thrust to the house, relating it to surrounding hills and valleys, reflecting the mountains across the bay and plains.
Constructed with a combination of timber frame, complex steel structure, and Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) supplied by MagRoc, the SIP system is a key component of the extraordinary thermal performance of the house. Rather than simply installing insulation between gaps in the framing leaving up to 20 percent of the walls and roof uninsulated, the SIP system insulates and clads the entirety of each wall.
MagRoc SIP homes have been tested down to 0.51 air changes per hour, in contrast to the standard 4.5 to 19 air changes per hour. The magnesium oxide internal panels provide additional thermal mass, absorbing excess heat during warmer times and releasing that heat when the ambient air temperature drops, maintaining more consistent internal temperatures.
The entrance of Black Door House is Max’s favourite, high ceilinged, the view unfolds just a few steps into the house. Glassforce created the glass and balustrade systems. A close relationship with MC Architecture is due to mutual unique design abilities, which found their first iteration in a loft home in Lyttelton where they designed, engineered, manufactured and installed a timber and glass sound reducing feature window that occupies the front wall.
Glassforce invented, patented, and trademarked a stunning glass system called Davantech, which requires zero mechanical fixing. Seismically superior, there is no point load so it is safe and easy to install. Both MC Architecture and Glassforce have offices in Italy, and together introduced the technologies invented in Christchurch. They are acclaimed there, as well as in Australia, America and the rest of Europe.
When choosing Warmth.nz underfloor heating, both the architect and builder knew the client would be thrilled, not only now, but well into the future and there is special satisfaction for the company knowing it had not relied on an expensive system to win the award.
Warmth.nz advises anyone building a new home that they can put luxurious underfloor heating in it for only $100 per square metre. The economical installation cost plus the future ability to extend or add to the system means the home is set up for future additions and the homeowner will live in the ultimate in luxury warmth every winter.
The company provides exemplar systems with low running costs for luxurious home heating right from the outset through the installation of in-floor piping when the foundations are poured. Once installed, the benefits are reaped with the total capital and running cost.
While Max’s design stood out amongst the world’s best, he modestly assumed he wouldn’t win, sending a London-based colleague to the Gala Ceremony in London in his place. Max’s team replicates his approach: they must be “people who are open to the challenge of pushing boundaries but at the same time keep their feet on the ground”.
New technologies are a passion, but the aptitude for variety and the ability to accomplish a simple or traditional request is central to the practice.
“We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us,” Churchill once said, and Canterbury’s pioneering company, PurePods, is leading from the front to ensure we are in the best possible shape.
Humans’ stress response reduces just moments after entering a green space, and the term ‘biophilia’ is defined as the inherent human inclination to affiliate with nature. Glass eco-cabins PurePods are the essence of biophilic design, incorporating natural materials, natural light, vegetation, nature and views and other experiences of the natural world into a minimalist luxury cabin.
A sojourn in a PurePod is a unique, lifestyle experience. Stephanie Hassall, CEO of PurePods says the twin goals of the company are to have the smallest ecological footprint possible, while providing luxury and 360-degree views.
Privacy is key: each PurePod is located on private land, with fabulous views well away from all human activities. The experience starts as soon as you pull off the main road and leave the world behind. From your carpark, it is a 10 to 30-minute walk (depending on which PurePod you have chosen) with your overnight bag, through an indigenous nature trail. Once there, native planting is visible under you, the sky above you and the views through three walls.
There are five individual PurePods located in secluded and beautiful parts of Canterbury, and they are looking for new locations. Stephanie says the first PurePod was built on site with most materials carried in on foot. Over the last 18 months they have developed a more prefabricated system. “It’s like a giant Meccano set, with as small an environmental footprint as possible.”
The buildings are PurePods’ trademarked and patented design, including the in-floor heating system set into the all-glass floor. Of course, PurePods use the expertise of local craftsmen, and from the beginning Coombes Sheet Metal and Fabrication has supported Purepods’ innovative designs by constructing components for the water and heating systems, and weather-proofing panelling, enabling it to perform in an exposed and remote natural environment.
The newest PurePod is at Pōhue, located high above Port Levy, where the view is rolling tussocks, down to the bay and out to the Pacific Ocean. Rock Formations (named by the original WWII Veteran owner’s Greek bride), known to climbers as The Acropolis and The Monument, are in front of and behind you.
Choosing which PurePod to book online is the most taxing part of the experience. The PurePods are identical, but each setting is unique: mountain, sea, bush, winery, and the seasons bring further variation: snow views, or golden grasses? You can book the next available PurePod, or a specific one, or why not PurePod-hop and try them all!