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Exceptional on the estuary: MCAS x Ethos Homes

International award-winning architect, Max Capocaccia of MCAS understands that buildings shape us as much as we shape them.


Max’s aesthetic results in buildings that not only generate emotion, but perform as the healthiest environment possible for those who dwell in them.

His Rockinghorse Road project encapsulates this holistic approach: attention to detail has produced a home that performs to a very high standard, is energy efficient and does not require heating during winter.

An enhanced timber frame utilises thicker timber and an airtight membrane with interior service cavities to reduce thermal bridging and achieve airtightness and provide well above standard thermal performance and triple-glazed windows are a feature.

Clad in a combination of macrocarpa vertical timber board, and batten and shiplap profile, the three distinct volumes within the home are simple in their shapes, but the subtle complexity of Max’s design means the house marries with its natural setting at sea level on the estuary.

“The main idea was to minimise the visual scale of the building through fragmenting mass,” Max says.

The flood prone situation next to the estuary needed a solution and Max responded to the challenge by creating a small hill as a base for the second volume, with each volume connected by a bridge, smaller in scale, this volume includes the entrance.

“I love the way the three volumes relate to each other, it is a real accomplishment of creativity meeting context,” Max says.

Peter Bielski Managing Director of Ethos homes built the house.

“He was thorough the whole way and communication was clear – it was good to talk through issues on site,” Max adds.

Peter says, “working with Max was a good fit: his design was stunning and building high-performance homes is our forté”.

Ethos Homes was born of a desire to bring Peter’s experience of German high-performance homes to the market.

“Healthy, sustainable homes enhance the lives of those that live in them,” Peter says.

Recognised as Certified Passive House experts in Canterbury, all Ethos projects are blower door tested for airtightness.

“We are passionate that every build provides the best in energy efficiency, health, comfort, and sustainability,” Peter says. “I put my integrity on the line for every home we build.”


‘Hilltop’ Architectural Masterpiece: MC Architecture Studio

“Diversity is a good characterisation of our practice,” says Max Capocaccia, Principal Architect at MC Architecture Studio. With a history of architecture in his family, Max established his own boutique studio in Christchurch in 2009. Since then, this award-winning firm has put diversity to the test, designing residential and commercial structures nationwide and internationally.



Combining energy efficient technologies, which are essential in good design, with a sense of artistry, Max’s latest award-nominated home sits atop Mount Pleasant and features magnificent views of the landscape and estuary. It was built by Nick Parsons of Parsons Construction and is nominated in the 2019 Registered Master Builders HOTY awards.

‘The Wall House’ is so named for its feature wall that creates a barrier between the street and the quiet seclusion the house enjoys. The homeowners didn’t want ‘standard’, Max says. “They wanted something spectacular.” And spectacular they got. “What I really wanted to do was create a journey from the street, through a small courtyard and into the house.”

As a result, visitors are treated to open spaces and, via grand amounts of glass, beautiful views. Informally separated into two living spaces, the day area is open to the surrounding environment and the more private, even conventional, night area, a place of enclosed comfort.

Max works closely with all his clients. He likes to show them the possibilities and together they find the right design. “It’s not my project; it’s our project.”