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Details matter in achieving architectural vision: Allfrey + South

Delivery of concept drawings marks an exciting milestone in any architectural project, yet what follows is critical in determining success. As architect Craig South observes, detailing holds the key to fulfilling the potential of inspiring concept design.

Architect Craig South
Craig South


In our practice, it is always a great feeling to share concept designs with our clients and be a part of that excitement when they can start to visualise how their finished house will look and feel.

From their perspective, it may sometimes seem as if our work is all but done at this point.

In fact, this is really only the beginning of another fundamental phase that must be managed well to ensure the design promise is fully realised.

During the next stages, technical documentation needs to be completed to a meticulous standard so the finished product will properly align with the original concept.

Such documentation will help guide the project through to an inspiring conclusion by ensuring, for example, that junctions will line up as expected and cladding will be applied correctly.

Careful detailing will also need to ensure that a building is weathertight and complies with all building code requirements.

As architects, we appreciate that this phase can sometimes feel slow for our clients who are eager to see tangible progress on-site, as it does take some time and most of this technical work is invisible from their end.

However, taking the time to get every detail right at this point will not only save potential heartache later on but will also give peace of mind that the original concept will materialise.

Our approach is thorough and includes modelling the building right down to its foundations to make sure all details are correct.

Once the documentation is completed, there is a detailed handover to the builder followed by ongoing collaboration, with documentation serving as a key communication tool.

We are very conscious of the investment clients make in our service and will do everything we can to ensure the final outcome eventuates in line with expectations.

Of course, once builders and other consultants start coming on board, we become part of a much bigger team.

Maintaining good communication across all aspects of the project as it proceeds is a top priority for us.

We work with others who share our ethos and passion, from builders to structural engineers, with our forward focus never wavering from the original architectural vision.

We continue having conversations with contractors throughout construction and seek to resolve any evolving issues or deviations from the detailed plan.

It is risky not to be involved in this way as poor detailing can have flow-on impacts that may need to be remediated or will degrade the intent of the original concept.

It is not a risk we are willing to take.

Within the overall project budget, the costs associated with achieving a quality process and robust documentation is modest.

We believe the service that architects offer in this area is invaluable.

While it is not as exciting as the concept itself, we do believe details matter and the results are obvious in projects around the city where that approach has been successfully adopted.


Real lives behind the architecture: Allfrey + South

From the outside, the practice of architecture may seem a little formal. Architect Craig South, of Allfrey + South Architects, says greater openness can change perceptions and promote positive outcomes.



When I first started out in this industry more than 20 years ago, I’m sure I would have thought that creative skills alone held the key to great design. In fact, as I’ve discovered, it invariably evolves out of building good relationships with clients; spending time with them on-site and getting to know their lifestyle and aspirations. You really can’t do that effectively without also sharing something of yourself along the way. Equally, good open communication is fundamental to building a healthy, friendly work environment. Once barriers start coming down between people, the relationships that form are generally very positive and productive.

As barrier busters go, my family’s Newfoundland puppy, Murphy, is proving a real champ. I’ve recently started bringing him into the studio with me. What a great experience it has been for everyone – so far, at least! Studies suggest that pets in the workplace are fantastic at relieving stress and encouraging social interaction. Dogs have been a fixture at Amazon for many years now and I can see why; having Murphy around the office encourages the team to take breaks away from their desks and lifts the overall mood. Of course, he’s a distraction to an extent, but a happy one and I think ultimately, we will all benefit.

I’m impressed at how chilled and relaxed Murphy is, both at home with my three daughters – aged 15, 13 and 10 – and in the studio, his calm nature seems to rub off on everyone that meets him. The plan is to have Murphy in the studio three days a week and, until he’s fully trained, he will spend most of his time hanging out in the office courtyard awaiting cuddles and pats. I’ve yet to meet anyone who can resist his ineffable ‘Newfie’ charm.

He will also be joining us at Allfrey + South’s Open Studio session later this month (29 November). This is an informal opportunity to drop by, ask a few questions and get to know us all a little better. Those with an interest in craft beer might be interested in the ‘brew day’ feature of the afternoon as I experiment with a new batch, and there may be an opportunity to sample some of my other home brew too!

During our Open Studio, you will find all of the Allfrey + South team are happy to share perspectives on architectural trends and innovations, as well as interests outside the office. Our website has been running some interesting stories from staff this year with blogs on a variety of topics from furniture restoration and small apartment living to travel experiences. It has made me appreciate what a diverse group we are, with many different outlooks and hobbies. While we are all employed in the same architecture sphere, we bring a range of experiences and talents to the practice.

All of this feeds back into an exceptional service for our clients, focused on celebrating their uniqueness in turn so as to create truly bespoke homes.

Meanwhile, I’m sure there will be many more updates to come on Murphy, who is still only at the start of his very own journey towards becoming a fully-grown dog! He may be small now, but he may eventually tip the scales at around 70kg!


Architect Craig South
Craig South



Sustainability in architecture: Allfrey + South

With interest growing in sustainable lifestyles, we caught up with architect Craig South of Allfrey + South Architects for his thoughts on the role architecture has to play in the sustainability equation.




Sustainability means different things to different people. As an architect, what does sustainability mean to you?
I think we all have our own ideas on what comprises a sustainable lifestyle. For some people, it has a lot to do with location and wanting to live close to where they work. For others, it may be about choosing a home with a smaller footprint or wanting to install solar panels. In our practice, we listen closely to our clients and are very happy to work with them to achieve their particular goals in this area.

Discussing sustainability in architecture might once have been considered a little unorthodox, but it is now an almost universal aspiration for people to want to live in well-insulated, energy-efficient homes. We live in a world where we have to make more sustainable choices and, as a practice, this is something we consciously and actively accept. We currently have a number of projects underway from alterations to new passive houses that set very high sustainability standards.

Why is sustainable architecture important?
We want to create beautiful architecture that people can enjoy living in, so there’s still a balance that needs to be struck. It would be a mistake to prioritise sustainability above all else but, of course, it makes absolute sense to include sustainability features because these result in warmer, drier, healthier homes that are more fun to live in. Who wouldn’t want that?

Rather than designing to code, we always aim well above that in terms of insulation, ventilation, solar heating and so on. It’s not just us being ‘eco-conscious’. Many of our clients want to go down this route because it makes so much sense. While above code projects may cost more upfront, the benefits are ongoing in terms of delivering power savings and a comfortable way of life. From a re-sale perspective, homes designed for sustainability will also remain more attractive in the long-term and continue to hold their value.

What is Allfrey + South’s approach to sustainability?
It is part of our baseline commitment to our clients and, by setting the bar high, we hope we can help inspire others to follow our lead. Fundamental elements of sustainable architecture include orientation that appropriately considers sun, shade and wind; and having high standards of insulation (including the slab) and ventilation. By ventilation, I don’t necessarily mean mechanical ventilation; good natural ventilation can be achieved through effective window design that promotes air flow and air quality. Recycled materials can come into the sustainability equation too, though often we find it is the heritage value of such materials that are particularly valued.

Fundamentally, we are guided by respect for our clients and will always work to achieve their lifestyle goals. How far we can go down the sustainability road is largely dependent on the conversations we have with them. It is a real pleasure to work with clients who are passionate about sustainability and want to share their journey towards a better way of life with us.


Architect Craig South
Craig South



Bringing People Together to Talk Architecture: Allfrey + South Architects

Allfrey + South Architects opened an exciting conversation on architecture with the wider community earlier this year via its new ArchiChat Group. Architect Craig South explains what the open forum is all about and why it is going from strength to strength.



It has been a privilege for us to open our practice this year and welcome those with a passion for design and the architectural process to join our ArchiChat Group get-togethers. Sharing a room with people from all walks of life who are genuinely interested in what we do as architects and how we go about it is really thrilling in many ways.

We first realised there was a place for an interactive social forum on architecture after being approached by a lovely couple, familiar with our work, at an open studio session last year. They were curious about design and asked lots of questions about our projects. It struck us that there could be other people like them who would appreciate being able to meet us informally and talk about architecture. We were not sure what to expect when we launched our first ArchiChat Group session earlier this year. In fact, demand was such that we ended up holding a second evening to cater to everyone who wanted to get involved.

Our next ArchiChat series of meetings will be in the week starting 5 August with the third scheduled for November. While builders, engineers and landscape architects are among those taking part, anyone with an interest in architecture is welcome to register. You don’t need to be an industry expert or someone thinking about building a new home. ArchiChat is primarily a forum to meet and socialise with our architects and other people who share a passion for all things architectural. Our get-togethers, with drinks and nibbles provided, are small, friendly and generally quite noisy with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and chat about matters of interest.


At each session we go through some of our projects, including past and current work. Again, we see this is as very informal, not a lecture. We also encourage discussion regarding newsworthy topics in the world of architecture. For example, a focus of debate at our first ArchiChat sessions was ‘the Tulip’, the controversial new skyscraper planned for London. As we are involved in a local project, we also chatted about the co-housing movement and opened up the floor to explore what people think about this trend.

This month we are inviting people to share their thoughts on whether it is time to rethink the norm of the small bach. For those who socialise most with family and friends while on holiday, then a larger bach and a smaller city house or apartment could make more sense than a large city home and a tiny bach. We are looking forward to hearing people’s feedback on what would work best for them.

We love how the ArchiChat Group is creating a place for dialogue and a two-way flow of ideas. As much as people can learn from us, we are also gaining a lot from the informal exchange of thoughts and ideas with people who care about architecture as much as we do.

Register your interest at and we will keep you posted.



Architect Craig South
Craig South




Craig South

Balancing architecture with interior design: Craig South

Rather than treating interior design as a finishing touch, architect Craig South suggests a collaborative approach can be much more effective.


Craig South


Architects and interior designers have traditionally tended to work apart but, in my experience, it’s far better to have both on the same page and working together from an early stage. Having a shared design vision is the best guarantee of an inspiring outcome.

There may be a perception that the architect’s job stops at the front door, yet more often than not external form flows through to the interior and this, in turn, will influence how the interior comes together. Good communication between the architect and interior designer ensures both can be focussed on the same goal of creating spaces that people will enjoy living in. That means spaces that are functional and that will work well with a building’s form and aesthetics.

When an architect and interior designer are in sync over key decisions, such as what materials will be used, a high level of overall consistency can be achieved. Built-in features like window seats are a good example of how interior design and architecture can be linked in this way. Some might see them as a bit of a throwback, but window seats are great for storage and, if built in the right places, offer lovely little spots for enjoying views and sun. Similarly, built-in bookshelves and places for ornaments really help breathe life and personality into a home.


Craig South


When planning a new home, I’d suggest getting an interior designer on board as early as possible to kick start these positive design synergies, even if all you have is a concept drawing. Decisions on smart use of space for storage – or how best to frame views or site a fireplace – can be made in unison and with the client’s needs front and centre. Involving the interior designer early also streamlines their own decision-making on furnishing and finishing.

In my day to day practice, I am privileged to work alongside an in-house interiors team and find that being able to bounce ideas between us is very helpful to the overall design process. We also collaborate with other interior designers at various stages of our projects and find that to be invaluable to the end result.

Take something as specific as a kitchen: it makes sense to bring the architect and interior designer together and let them know exactly how you want that space to perform. You can even show them where you envisage standing at your kitchen bench. A good mutual understanding of the space being created will get you off to a flying start.


Craig South


What we constantly strive to do in our own practice, as architects and designers, is to create playful, easy to use spaces. Our goal is not simply to create houses as shelter, but homes with personality that include all those special bespoke touches that add up to an enjoyable way of life.


Architect Craig South
Craig South


At its best, architecture and interior design are a kind of ‘pas de deux’, both working in tandem to produce a harmonised whole.


Craig South

Welcome to the Waterfront: Craig South

Christchurch’s new city waterfront is transforming how people engage with the city and Te Papa Ōtakaro/Avon River. Architect Craig South explores this exciting addition to the central city.


Craig South


It was a day for celebration and discovery when Christchurch’s new City Promenade opened on 25 November with a scavenger hunt, live music, face painting and eel feeding. A few weeks before the official opening I was lucky enough to be invited on a tour of the new waterfront on the north side of Te Papa Ōtakaro/Avon River between Christchurch Hospital and Manchester Street/the Margaret Mahy Family Playground. It is a key part of Te Papa Ōtakaro/Avon River Precinct.

Seeing the new riverside up close is inspiring. I can’t speak highly enough of the design that features broad, well-designed paving. In pre-quake days, few would have braved the river’s grassy banks but the City Promenade can today be safely and easily accessed by people of all physical abilities and ages.

How we interact with this part of the city is going to change as a result. Instead of just driving through it, people can now enjoy a leisurely walk or cycle along the river. My recent tour of the area gave me a fresh appreciation of how lucky we are to have such a beautiful natural environment in the heart of our city. Vehicle traffic will likely dwindle through the streets next to the river as more people embrace the waterfront. Activities such as riverside entertainment and market stalls will no doubt evolve in response to the City Promenade.

The rebuild provided an opportunity for Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāi Tahu identity to truly become a part of the city and it’s great to see how this has been woven into the river precinct. A self-guided walk has been created to highlight Ngā Whāriki Manaaki – Woven Mats of Welcome, a series of 13 weaving patterns adapted for the riverside using stone pavers of varying shades and colours.


They reference the whakamanuhiri process of welcome and support the Ngāi Tahu guiding principle of the rebuild, ‘Kia atawhai ki te iwi’, (care for your people). The designs were made by expert weavers Reihana Parata, QSM and Morehu Flutey-Henare, Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge with technical support from artist Wayne Youle, Bachelor of Design. Personally, I feel moved and impressed by the Whāriki, which so eloquently embed mana whenua history and values in the city.

My walking tour was a real journey of discovery: altogether, the City Promenade includes 34 artworks and various site-specific displays/information. Around 500 trees, 29,000 plants and 600,000 pavers went into its creation. The river winds by the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial and the Bridge of Remembrance. It passes by The Terrace hospitality hub and the Riverside Farmers’ Market site, the Convention Centre, Victoria Square and the North Frame to the Margaret Mahy Playground. It goes without saying that this is a wonderful walk for families.

Te Papa Ōtakaro/Avon River Precinct simultaneously rolls out a welcome while leaving room for introspection and reflection and encouraging a spirit of exploration. Personally, I got a lot out of my day on the waterfront. If you have friends and whānau/family visiting over summer, I recommend taking them to see it so they can experience a unique Christchurch welcome.


Architect Craig South
Architect Craig South


Savouring the Kiwi Summer

Savouring the Kiwi Summer

Architect Craig South looks forward to the Christmas break and celebrates the Kiwi holiday tradition of sharing good times with friends and family.


Savouring the Kiwi Summer



Whether it’s a staycation at home, a holiday at a camping ground in a tent or campervan, or a motel, bach or crib getaway, most New Zealanders will be looking forward to enjoying some well-deserved time off after another busy year. One of the best things about the end of the year break is being able to relax with friends and family, who often converge at the same holiday spot year after year. Many have their favourite place, whether it’s Golden Bay and the Abel Tasman National Park, Kaikoura, Hanmer Springs or Central Otago. A lot of people love the predictability of spending the break at their time-honoured camping ground, motel, or memory-filled family bach.


Savouring the Kiwi Summer

As a parent, I love how holidays bring opportunities for family adventures and new experiences, such as roughing it out in a tent somewhere in the bush or exploring unfamiliar cycle trails. A holiday by a lake opens up the chance to try out some water sports. Beach holidays mean sandcastles, body surfing and lazing on beach towels under a sun umbrella… of course, don’t forget the sunblock.
Holiday accommodation can have a big influence on the overall experience. From an architect’s perspective, your ‘home away from home’ ought to feel positively different and yet remain in synch with how you and your family like to live and relax. In our own practice, Architect Cymon Allfrey’s award-winning family bach at Hanmer Springs is a great example of how good playful design can work so well.



Savouring the Kiwi Summer


Drawn together around a recessed patio and timber decks, this holiday retreat includes three small buildings designed to take in the views and soak up all-day sun. It simultaneously provides privacy and places to socialise and is poised to become a lasting legacy for the family. Every person will have different ideas about where they’d love to build a dream bach and what it would look like. These ideas are the starting point for a good design. A great holiday home will also seamlessly fit with its location. Sea views, sliders and decks will likely be priorities for a beach bach, while a crib near the mountains could have a drying room and an open fire to keep things cosy. Regardless of location, most people will opt for bunks somewhere to accommodate multiple families, though these can be configured in many different ways.

A well-designed Kiwi bach will grow into an intergenerational treasure, loved by grandchildren and grandparents alike. It is a place for sharing experiences and shaping summer memories. Friends may come and set up a tent on the lawn, while children run around outside and adults gather on the deck.


Architect Craig South
Architect Craig South

Whatever you do these holidays – and wherever you go – I wish you all the best for an enjoyable summer break.


A positive way forward

A positive way forward

Architect Craig South suggests a new campaign promoting Christchurch’s spirit of exploration is a good fit with the city’s past and its current culture of innovation.


A positive way forward


Christchurch has come a long way since the earthquakes, but we have yet to attract enough people to the city to get it really humming.
Not everyone will agree on how this is to be done, but ChristchurchNZ has certainly front footed the challenge this month by launching a new promotional campaign. Called The Christchurch Story, it invites newcomers ‘to explore the opportunity’ available in the city.
A promotional video has been released, seeking to embed ‘exploration’ as a defining motif for Ōtautahi/Christchurch throughout its history and into the future.

It is an inclusive approach that acknowledges shared Māori and European heritage, Antarctic connections, the women’s suffrage movement and a legacy of excellence in research and development. As architects, we embrace this emphasis on exploration and welcome the campaign’s implicit support for innovative development. It’s an approach that will likely resonate particularly strongly for those involved in local cutting edge endeavours in engineering and IT. At the very least, ‘exploration’ is a word worth thinking about and acting on in our day to day lives.

Of course, the broader hope is that this campaign will deliver a promotional punch that will plant this city squarely in front of potential investors, visitors, migrants and students. Let’s hope it finds a receptive audience, nationally and globally. If the forecasts are right, we really do have to come up with something bold to draw more people to Christchurch in order to plug a predicted workforce gap of 73,500 by 2031.

How we respond to this campaign, as individuals and within the local business community, will be important in helping to build future prosperity. There is potential to unify the city’s predominantly small and medium-sized businesses behind this one marketing goal, (though no doubt the theme could be communicated in a myriad of different ways). That’s what ChristchurchNZ will be hoping for, at
any rate.

If it is to succeed, Christchurch City Council and ChristchurchNZ will need to keep this campaign at the forefront of their activities. A digital toolkit of photos, videos and information has been produced to help local businesses get on board, but more resourcing will likely be needed to drive the campaign forward in coming months. Growing this city will require more than just a slogan: it will take a long term commitment.

The Christchurch Story is like the city’s calling card: ‘here we are – come and explore with us’. We need to work together to push that invitation out beyond the city. For the ones who answer the call, what will they find? A liveable 21st century city, bursting with new ideas and new architecture, located close to mountains and sea. They will find a forward-thinking city, prepared to try concepts such as shared electric scooters and cycleways. They will find a city simultaneously incubating innovation and fostering community values. I’m sure they will also find a warm welcome.

Christchurch is a great place to work and live. In today’s increasingly connected and crowded world, we are a place worthy of investment. To be known as ‘a city of explorers’ sounds good to me.


Embracing our accessible city

Embracing our accessible city

Architect Craig South takes a look at how Christchurch’s growing cycle and pedestrian infrastructure is poised to transform the city’s future.


Embracing our accessible city


Part of the vision for the Christchurch rebuild was to create a city that would be safer, cleaner and easier to access. Most Cantabrians agree with that in principle, while still commuting to work every day in private motor vehicles that pollute the environment and clog up roads. Maybe it’s time to rethink how we travel in and out of the city. I’m optimistic this will happen as people begin to explore the city’s changing travel network. Christchurch already has many new dedicated cycle lanes and pedestrian walkways linking up different parts of the CBD and connecting with similar developments in the wider city and outlying districts. We may not yet be up there with Copenhagen – the world’s first ‘Bike City’ – but this shift towards sharing our streets more evenly between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is starting to create a more positive feel for the whole urban environment.

While some of the city’s new cycle ways are still somewhat under-used, they are a resource waiting to be tapped into. All that’s required is a shift in thinking and a willingness to give it a go. Over time, they will grow to be recognised as a real asset for the city not least because fewer cars on the roads will ultimately mean less traffic congestion. Imagine the Riverside farmers’ market once it’s up and running. With most people walking or cycling there on a Saturday rather than driving, it will be an amazing evolution for the central city.

Within our own architectural practice, we are witnessing an interesting shift in commuting habits. Some people have completely switched over to cycling, while others are choosing to drive part way before completing their commute on a bike. Most are thinking about how they travel to and from work and whether it’s time to make some changes. Personally, I’ve been warming to the idea of cycling to work more often.

My cycle route is through Hagley Park and I find that so much more relaxing than the drive. For starters, I have the freedom to think about other things than morning traffic. It takes me 15 minutes to bike to work, compared to 10 minutes by car. When you factor in how long it can take to find a car park, cycling does not add significantly to travel time. Plus, cycling bestows fitness and petrol saving advantages. It’s such an easy, stress free way to build physical activity into the day.

Commuting by bike, bus or foot is definitely more ecologically sustainable than taking the car, unless you happen to own an electric vehicle, of course. Some of our larger civic and commercial organisations are leading the way in supporting all the various green transport alternatives through providing electric car charging stations, secure bike parking and associated shower and locker facilities.


For those who haven’t been on a bike for a while, give it a try one weekend and find out just how easy it is to get around on two-wheels. It really is a fun way to explore the city!


Craig South

Protecting your home investment: Craig South

For those preparing to make one of the biggest investments of their lives, building a new home, analysing and understanding all possible risk is paramount to ensuring a successful outcome. But where do you start? How can you protect yourself from all potential perils when planning for your future nest?


Craig South


Investing in a new home is such a huge undertaking. Many people will only do so once in their lives and are likely to be unfamiliar with the process and therefore open themselves up to unforeseen risk.
As architects, it is in our best interests to help our clients avoid potential pitfalls and to make the design process as pleasurable and productive as possible. As part of our service, we often provide guidance on selecting a trusted builder and how to interpret the contracts. The best builders will already have a strong track record and reliable working relationships with designers and subcontractors.

Who you choose to work with can make such a big difference to the final outcome. Selecting a build and design team with a strong and consistent record of success, and preferably a history of working together, is the ideal for achieving a great home that will fit you and your lifestyle. It requires a robust, collaborative approach that demands clarity on key factors including the brief, the budget and design parameters.
Of course, the financial risks are not the only issues you will need to be mindful of on your journey towards your new dream home. Poor design, inadequate communication, inferior materials and construction techniques can result in a home that falls well short of original expectations, with value negatively affected. The significance of selecting the right design and build team simply cannot be ignored.

Protecting your investment from risk requires a multifaceted approach and we believe the broader solution lies in building a home not just for today but for the future. A well thought out design is intrinsic to that goal, but it also means choosing quality, reputable materials that will endure. For example, cladding that has stood the test of time rather than selecting the latest trendy product on the market. At the same time, it’s about having the discernment to embrace quality innovations where they offer real advantages.

There are so many options when it comes to deciding on your preferred building methodology, ranging from prefabrication to low energy use buildings.
Although good design should never be forfeited, it makes sense to favour a low maintenance, low energy input home. It is part of futureproofing your investment to seek a design and build that will produce a house well above current code on features such as insulation and energy efficiency.
Risk will evaporate if the fundamentals are addressed, achieving sustainable, inspiring results. If value is placed in the design process, you ensure this transpires into the end product, creating a home that reflects the significant investment that it is.



Architect Craig South
In the wake of another building firm collapse, architect Craig South offers insight on safeguarding your home for the future.