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Married to architecture

Ever wondered what life is like for architects’ families? Anna South, who is married to Craig South of South Architects Ltd in Christchurch, shares her perspective.


When someone gets the chance to put their mark on the world in a unique and personal way, as architects do, it is only natural that they want to share that experience with their families.

I’m not sure what other families do in their free time, but if Craig has a home being built in Christchurch, then chances are high that there will be a family outing or two to the site to check on progress. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

There is something very exhilarating about being able to visit a home as it is being built and watch it through each stage.

Behind the scenes, there is an awful lot of time and effort that goes into translating a client’s ideas into a considered design vision.

Architectural matters inevitably seep into our everyday lives.

On a typical Sunday afternoon at home, we may be sharing a family platter while Craig sits at the dining room table sketching.

We are all very well accustomed to the sketch pad coming out over the weekend!

Architecture isn’t something that you can ever really take a break from.

Personally, I find it fascinating to see sketches evolve, knowing they will ultimately become someone’s beautiful new home.

I have also come to appreciate the importance of due diligence in every project.

Architects need to be very familiar with the land they are designing for and the materials that will be used.

Tapping walls and checking out claddings is all part of the fun!

This passion for the job is ultimately what paves the way for our clients having a good experience too, as we want nothing but the best for them.

Thanks to our amazing clients, we are lucky enough to visit some beautiful places as we check on the progress of homes.

This is one of the real pleasures of the job for all of us.

There’s nothing like tagging along on a lovely trip to Whangamata or Central Otago.

It is so exciting to watch well thought out designs come to life and meet clients who will eventually make happy memories in their lovely new home.

Like every couple with children, we look forward to opportunities to get dressed up every now and again and enjoy a fun evening out together.

Design awards provide the perfect excuse for that while celebrating the outstanding architecture currently being produced in New Zealand.

Along with the highs of awards won are the lows of awards entered and not won.

It can be a tough industry to be in when one’s work is constantly being scrutinised through design award entries or on social media.

People sometimes forget that architects like Craig must tailor their designs to suit the wants and needs of individual families.

It is always a collaborative journey.

In the end, nothing beats visiting the finished home, having the client show you around with pride in their eyes and knowing that they will live well in their South Architects creation!


Crafting Homes

When it comes to building on the hills, only the very best in experience and expertise will do, and that’s where renowned hill builders, Steve Brown Builders comes in. Director Steve Brown has been bringing dreams to life in conjunction with leading architects for 30 years.



“We offer our clients a quality service, we are approachable and personable, with communication as our hallmark, and that has naturally led to our longevity and great reputation,” Steve says.

“We are always incredibly proud of our end product and it’s a favourite moment to hand it to its new owner.”

A stunning project – not on the hills but requiring the ingenuity, craftsmanship and planning of the toughest hill build – was the authentically faithful like-for-like rebuild of a 1913 earthquake-damaged mansion that required complete demolition, much to its owners’ sorrow.

Today the two-storey brick and half-timbered home’s extensive ornate plaster ceilings, Italian marble fireplaces, leadlights and panelling are proudly in place.

“We don’t often get to build these and were delighted that the owner opted to rebuild, to illustrate our skills,” Steve says.

Forty-five years’ experience gives Steve a rare depth of knowledge about specialised builds, giving his team a huge advantage.

“In those days we did everything without the benefit of the specialist trades that now come in. I like to think that our apprentices gain the ability to do all the work if required, and are highly skilled in most areas when they become qualified,” Steve says.

“You can see the craft in the homes we build.”


Distance no barrier to achieve inspiring architecture

Whether planning a new home in Canterbury or further afield, a consistent quality design process should be achievable. Architect Craig South, of Allfrey + South, suggests distance need not present any impediment to success.


Architect Craig South


Given all the advantages of connectivity in today’s world, overcoming distance to achieve great architecture is a challenge that architects can readily embrace, provided they have the right client-focussed systems and practices in place.

At Allfrey + South, we approach each new project with the same high level of care and attention.

We are committed to ensuring everyone can access our unique style of architecture, regardless of site location.

While we are based in Christchurch, we can design for sites throughout New Zealand.

Wherever the site, the fundamental steps required to achieve inspiring results remain the same.

We do not treat a project involving a distant site any differently than a site close at hand.

In either scenario, site visits are of key importance in order to gain first-hand experience of conditions such as sun and wind exposure, local weather and other factors that could influence design decisions.

Equally important is the need to gain a clear understanding of the client’s priorities and their lifestyle aspirations.

We also try to keep in mind architectural vernacular, as this can sometimes vary quite significantly from region to region.

Not all design work at a distance involves new home projects.

For example, some people may require help to upgrade or update an existing holiday home.

Again, our process involves getting to know and understand what’s on site and spending time with the client to ensure they get the best possible result.

While much can be achieved online or through video-conferencing, we find there is no substitute for meeting with clients in person as they fine-tune their brief.

We would never expect a client to draft a brief from scratch and send it through to us.

We also like to meet directly with clients when presenting design concepts, as we believe the best architecture evolves out of a personalised process.

There are exceptions to the rule but, where possible, regular face-to-face meetings are always a key part of how we work with clients.

If this involves having to take a flight or two to meet with them, then that certainly presents no barrier for us.

It only requires a little flexibility on our part to accommodate a day or two travel out of the office, (and we always make sure to offset our carbon emissions).

Logistics are a big part of the equation for designing at a distance.

We like to seek out good relationships with builders, consultants and local councils at the locations where we will be working to make sure we have a sound appreciation of associated build costs, as well as local planning rules and regulations. Ideally, we also try to source local office space where we can meet with those involved in the project.

Sometimes we work not just with distant sites but also with ‘distant’ clients who live elsewhere in New Zealand or even overseas.

Having robust processes in place, including good communication plans, ensures design work can proceed smoothly, no matter where either site or client is located.


Opening new doors on city living: Allfrey + South Architects

Buyers seeking a newly built city apartment will find plenty on the market. But what if people want something else, something more connected and affordable? Architect Craig South explores what this ‘something else’ could look like and how it could transform how we live.




I was recently invited to contribute to a New Zealand Institute of Architects’ forum on the subject of emerging trends in city living in Christchurch. As one of the speakers, I was pleased to give a talk on co-housing and the work our practice has been doing in this area for the Peterborough Housing Co-operative. We have been privileged to lead the design of this new pocket neighbourhood over the past three years as the project has evolved. The development includes both private homes and shared facilities, clustered around a large central courtyard.

The co-housing approach is instinctively attractive because it connects with our ideals of wanting to live well in small communities and of wanting to live more simply and more sustainably.

Now more than ever, people really do want greater choice around how they live in the urban environment. Internationally, we are seeing the emergence of a growing array of solutions to answer that consumer trend. For example, ‘Naked Architecture’ offers buyers the ability to buy ‘shell space’ with no pre-imposed layout so that it can then be finished and fitted out to suit personal needs and budget. The idea is that two different potential buyers will likely have two very different sets of lifestyle priorities, so it makes sense to let them decide how they want to configure their own space.

Sparking a lot of interest in Australia right now, too, is the Nightingale model. This is an innovative, architect-led approach to apartment development that seeks to prioritise social, environmental and financial sustainability. With profits capped, projects are crowdfunded through an ethical investment model and transparency around costs and governance – it’s an approach that is proving very popular (each project to date has been completely pre-sold via ballot).

Of course, the reason why models like this resonate so well is they offer more control. Future residents have a say on key design decisions, such as how much car parking to include or whether to have any shared facilities. They call the shots on whether to have a swimming pool or communal barbecue area.

In my view, any kind of shared, multi-residential arrangement could only succeed if all those buying into it were on the same page, sharing a similar vision. As well, there would need to be clear and effective ground rules in place to minimise any potential misunderstandings or conflicts.

Could something like the Nightingale model work in Christchurch? Certainly, I think it offers some exciting potential for those interested in pooling their resources to get the kind of city lifestyle they want within a multi-residential setting.

Having held a number of interactive forums on architecture this year, through our ArchiChat Group sessions, I’m aware that many people would certainly welcome more choice in this area of urban housing development. At our next round of ArchiChat in November, we will be seeking to gauge interest in potentially trialling this approach at a Christchurch site. Whether you are a developer, builder or potential home buyer, we would welcome your input – register at


Architect Craig South
Craig South


Affordability and the culture trap: Linetype Architectural

When it comes to houses, there are certain ergonomic features that make a space function, but it’s hard to argue for a need when spaces get larger than necessity dictates. However, strip a design back to necessity and we might be disappointed with what we are presented.




Therefore, it’s important to recognise we have cultural values overlying some basic needs that tell us when a space is adequate or not. I suspect that growing up in a colony, where land was once cheap and stretching one’s legs caused no harm, has bequeathed a luxurious expectation of space that is hard to extinguish. Of the prince and the pauper, the pauper seemed to have it good, but when life is going in the other direction, it causes much more angst.

This kind of lifestyle has gone unchallenged for several generations but is increasingly coming under scrutiny: climate change; urban sprawl; affordability. If I’m honest, I struggle with an internal conflict that recognises these factors but still wants a generosity of space.

Perhaps it is just a matter of me, and New Zealand culture, naturally growing up from that colonist mentality. Commute distances will cause us to value the density of cities and that value will supersede the one of space. The trouble is that the process doesn’t happen uniformly. Plus it happens slowly, and time is not on our side. The temptation may always be there to look to your neighbour with twice as much space. If you are building, challenge yourself. Big is not better, enough is enough.



By Linetype Architectural Architect Ben Brady



Architectural forum attracts positive response: Allfrey + South Architects

Allfrey + South Architects’ initiative ArchiChat is resonating strongly with people who share their passion for design and the architectural process. As Architect Craig South reports, the latest two-way forum sparked constructive discussion on how people like to live and holiday.



Having launched our ArchiChat Group earlier this year, it is exciting to see interest growing in this interactive social forum that we set up for people wanting to learn more about architecture and what architects do.

As well as giving people an opportunity to explore the practice of contemporary architecture, the forum is providing an invaluable vehicle for an informal exchange of thoughts and ideas. It has been a great experience and we’re certainly learning a lot from those taking part.

Our latest series, in early August, was well-attended and generated great feedback. We got the ball rolling at each session by asking people to name their favourite holiday locations. It was interesting how these places so often lined up with a passion, whether for tramping or biking, peace and quiet, or just wanting to be somewhere beautiful with family.

Discussion then turned to what sort of bach people dreamed of and how that might complement their home lifestyle. Some preferred the concept of combining a modest city home with a large bach where they could holiday in style and comfort with friends and family. Others clearly favoured a spacious city home for urban living complemented by the option of being able to escape to a small private bach.



We talked through how each option could look in architectural terms, drawing examples from our own practice. We first outlined how a large holiday house can be designed to accommodate multiple families with all the comforts of home and how this could be combined with compact living in an inner city apartment. Many felt this combination would work best if the holiday home location was not too far from the city, making it easy to invite friends and family out for a weekend away.

Secondly, we showed how a large city home can be designed to maximise easy living for children and adults, as well as catering to extended family/guests. We discussed how this could be complemented by a small bach designed to make best use of space by delivering flexibility, privacy, style and comfort.

A lot of people thought a small, low maintenance bach would be perfect for a more distant getaway. We also touched on how you could combine a small city home with a small bach and designing for one-off crowds in small spaces. Smaller buildings do offer that advantage of less maintenance.

Personal preferences will always influence how people live and play, though most attending our sessions agreed that a bach should look and feel different to day-to-day living so as to create that true sense of escape.

In these latest ArchiChat sessions, there was also lively debate on the Merivale Mall expansion and whether people favoured suburban development over growth in the central city. The consensus favoured a vibrant city centre. Needless to say, we are looking forward to another successful round of ArchiChat later this year and having more people join our conversation on architecture.


Architect Craig South
Craig South


A Home in Harmony: 360 Architecture

When the client engaged 360 Architecture to build a house on their site on the lower Cashmere slopes, they bought with them a number of interesting challenges.


Photographer Simon Devitt


The size of the site was quite restricted, the soil was very unstable and in poor condition, and the height to which the house could be built was restricted so as to not block any neighbouring views. The build also needed to be completed within a fixed budget, so there was no margin for error.

Undaunted by the challenge, Rob Bosma and his team responded to the brief using a composition of simple, uncluttered block forms, interlinked and cut open to expose the interior spaces to the adjacent reserve and views beyond. The main living area and master bedroom with ensuite are elevated above a sunken garage. The house is dressed in high quality cedar cladding, a versatile material which has a natural warmth and richness of colour helping to integrate the building into its natural surroundings.

During the building and design process, optimising conditions for the best natural ventilation and comfort conditions were always kept in mind. This meant designing the build to optimise orientation towards the sun whilst ensuring there is adequate shading for the hottest summer months, and paying careful attention to the positioning of glazed surfaces.

Generous openings were provided to exhaust summer heat rather than relying on mechanical cooling. Therefore, the house remains comfortable in all seasons with heating only required on sunless winter days. The 360 Architecture team has managed to create something truly unique, aesthetically beautiful and in harmony with its surroundings. For the proud new owners of Broad Oaks, all the boxes have been ticked and their new home is truly a joy to live in.


Simon Devitt
International Photographer of Architecture
Phone 021 680 959


Designing for Community: Allfrey + South

City housing initiatives that promote a sense of community are sparking growing interest. As architect Craig South explains, such housing developments can take many different forms.



Earlier this year, we launched our ArchiChat Group to provide an informal way for people to meet us and share our love of architecture. It has generated a lot of lively conversation, especially around the topic of community-based housing. Many find the idea really appealing because it connects with the New Zealand dream of small, friendly neighbourhoods where children can play and grow up feeling safe and cared for, and where adults can socialise much more freely than they do in today’s suburbs. The vision also embodies a more sustainable, less wasteful way of life through sharing facilities and common spaces.

In Christchurch, a good example of this is the Peterborough Housing Co-operative where a trust is creating a new pocket neighbourhood. It has been fascinating to lead the design of this medium density development over the past three years. On track to be completed in 2020 are 14 single and multi-storey residences and a ‘Common House’, clustered around a large central outdoor space. Ranging from smaller one-bedroom homes and studios to three- and four-bedroom homes, the houses will all be different and suit a range of occupant typologies.

As with any other project, the key to good design has been to understand the values and objectives of the client. In this case, the goal was to create houses that would be private while also encouraging social interaction with neighbours in the shared courtyard and the ‘Common House’. It will be a very child-friendly place with plenty of room for safe play in the outdoors and with cars accommodated separately in off-street parking to one side. There are limited entry points to the development itself, encouraging interaction between occupants as they cross paths.

Shared facilities include a laundry at each end of the central courtyard. A ‘Common House’ will be the community’s social hub, comprising a guest room, kitchen, spacious lounge, kids’ space, study space and a teens’ loft. The concept of a development such as this is to combine private housing with a sense of belonging to something bigger. The options for community housing are fairly limitless and need not simply replicate what has been designed in this particular instance. Other people might approach such a project with a completely different set of values and priorities that would, in turn, shape the final outcome.

Our work with the Peterborough Housing Co-operative has certainly sparked a lot of interest and enquiry on how the concept might be applied to other similar housing developments. We are really passionate about the co-housing concept and know that it can be successful in many different forms. We have had many in-depth discussions in the office; could we live in a co-housing community? Who would our neighbours be? What shared facilities and amenities would work best for us?

Do you think you could live in a co-housing community? If you are interested in setting up a similar development or want to learn more about co-housing, we want to get to know you! We would like to take ArchiChat ‘on the move’ and meet with groups who have a specific interest in co-housing, so please get in touch so we can bring ArchiChat to you!




Architectural Alchemy

Architectural Alchemy

Little by little and project by project, Christchurch’s ever-evolving urban landscape is taking form. No longer the quaint post-Victoria spot it once was, it is rising from the rubble with a dynamic new edge.


Architectural Alchemy


The emerging Christchurch will be an overlay of the new upon the old – one that preserves heritage while embracing modernity. The result will be a 21st-century ‘Garden City’ that provides a new way of working and living in a city within a contemporary and vibrant environment. It is perhaps best exemplified by the raft of awards earned on the local level at the recent ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards, one of the most coveted architecture awards in the country. Cymon Allfrey of Cymon Allfrey Architects has taken out yet another prestigious architecture award for ‘The Family Bach’ when it was named the supreme winner.

The ADNZ award win means The Family Bach has received recognition at five separate architecture awards programmes in 2018 – making it one of the most recognised designs in the country ever. Set in the idyllic Hanmer Springs, it was created as a retreat for Cymon’s own family to enjoy and ADNZ judges described the playful collection of three hovering buildings as a place for making lasting memories. The Family Bach was not the only winner on the night from the Canterbury region. Out of nine projects recognised with ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards in New Zealand – four were from Canterbury.

The other winners were ‘Latimer’ by Kelly Rush of Krush Architecture, ‘Redcliff Village Library’ by Greg Young of Young Architects and ‘Glandovey Home’ by Cymon Allfrey of Cymon Allfrey Architects Ltd. Redcliffs Village Library – designed by Greg Young of Young Architects won the Commercial/Industrial Architectural Design Award. The brief was to deliver a small, fit for purpose, community hub facility that supports both the voluntary library function and a multipurpose community space. Cymon Allfrey had another winning home, this time in the Residential New Home over 300m2 Architectural Design Award. A residential home on Glandovey Road with a soaring pitched roof that runs the length of the house, Glandovey Home was praised by judges for being an “individualist” but at the same time sitting nicely with its surrounds.

Kelly Rush of Krush Architecture received the Residential Multi-Unit Dwelling Architectural Design Award for a modern design of three large, high-spec townhouses located in Christchurch’s central city. Judges were complimentary of Rush for creating a sense of privacy in a busy urban setting. Architectural Designers New Zealand CEO, Astrid Andersen, says the four Canterbury projects were worthy winners in a hotly contested awards season. “With home owners taking greater creative risks and putting more trust in their designers and architects – the resulting architecture is more exciting, interesting and bold,” she says.

“Cymon Allfrey’s bach design is an example of this. Cymon was free to design a home that was brave, adventurous and a work of art. We only hope that this trend continues and more of our members are given the opportunity to push the boat out and let their creativity take sail.”