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Winning by design: Stephenson and Turner

Dennis Chippindale’s passion for living on hills together with his desire for easy living combine in his own home high above Church Bay, looking across Whakaraupo/Lyttelton Harbour towards Quail Island and the Port Hills.




Having lived on hill sites in Wellington, Dennis loved the views but disliked houses spread over many levels.

As a Principal Architect at Stephenson and Turner, Dennis was able to design his own home to be single level so “it follows the contours of the site so it is long and thin.”

Artfully blended into the landscape and clad in cedar, the house is barely visible on the hill and from the roadside, “We love that its modernist and extended shape blends in a bit like a DoC hut,” says Dennis.

An outside room provides alfresco living with protection from the muscular easterly wind. Sustainable and energy efficient, the house – which won a 2020 Local Architecture Award – more than twice code for insulation.

The 200-degree view is a favourite, but boulders the size of cars – a legacy of the Mt Herbert lava flow – that had to be shifted, have morphed from a serious construction challenge to an authentic character landscape feature Dennis and partner Sahra love.

The design was realised by residential and commercial construction experts Proceed Building. Director and qualified Joiner Ian Mayer says: “The project had a lot of detail, from the birch ply and cedar panelling, to the oak trusses and maple veneered doors, which required a great deal of skill and time to get the detail perfect.

“The curved bookshelf, bathroom and wardrobe joinery and shelving were made on-site and installed by the team. It was an exciting journey working with clients Dennis and Sahra.”

A favourite characteristic of the build for Ian is the way the house curves into the hillside – that was a complex aspect of the project as well. “It is a beautiful location, however hill-work provides unusual challenges, and the landscape evolves as you work on it,” says Ian.

“We are grateful to our experienced team and subcontractors for their dedication and skill put into the project.”




Where nature meets modernism: Tim Nees

A Christchurch architect has contributed to Banks Peninsula’s landscape with his penchant for eye-catching modernism.



Tim Nees hails from Wellington where he designed his national award-winning family home in the weather-lashed environs of Breaker’s Bay. Since 2014 the respected architect has operated New Work Studio from his Christchurch abode – a juxtaposition of white-painted forms, above the Taylors Mistake landscape.

“My father loved modernism, and he had like-minded architect friends. When it is what you grew up with, you can’t help but be strongly influenced.”

Tim’s other Banks Peninsula masterpiece recently won a 2020 Canterbury Architecture Award for off-the-grid retreat Houhere with its striking saw-tooth roofline and use of natural timbers.|

Now his next client’s dream home is proudly but privately tucked into a rare parcel of Governors Bay land overlooking the harbour.

The four hectares are unable to be subdivided, so the amazing site called for a timeless but modern design full of thought and detail, that made the most of the sweeping views.

“My clients had a modest budget, so the new house is a modest 220sqm, with a single cladding type applied everywhere,” Tim says.

“The land was purchased after the original house was destroyed in the earthquakes. Ngāi Tahu was consulted during the careful excavation, as ancient Māori walking tracks had been recorded on the land.

“The two levels are built on a flat knoll, capturing the afternoon sun, with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the absolutely stunning Lyttleton Harbour views, and the dramatic hilltop silhouettes beyond.”

Garaging wasn’t deemed essential, as the long driveway through native flora provided the perfect hideaway.

One timber has been used extensively, sustainably milled Southern Beech, an untreated hardwood from the West Coast, used in various grades, with a natural oil-based stain for the cladding, upstairs flooring, staircase, ceilings and deck – all sourced from Health Based Building, who also provided the insulation.

“They wanted a really comfortable warm and highly insulated home, with an integrated heat-pump system.”

Tim says it resembles a big wooden boat from the side, with outdoor handrails in rusted Corten steel with an abstract leaf cut-out pattern.

The ground level, with three modest-sized bedrooms, has polished-concrete slab underfoot with timber ceilings to soften.

The main bathroom incorporates a timber surrounded alcove for deep-bath soaks against a watery vista.

A statement open staircase of timber and steel draws the eye up to the spacious open-plan kitchen and living area.

The couple’s bespoke design wish list includes a large laundry and a yoga studio with a framed picture window – creating the ultimate meditative and inspirational retreat.



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!