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Design gongs put firm in spotlight

Holmes Architecture (Wellington) won the Residential New Home over 300m2 Architectural Design Award for this Martinborough house.

Mike Holmes established Holmes Architecture while completing the Masters of Architecture programme at Victoria University. Before this he had construction in his blood working for ten years on complex residential and commercial projects as a qualified builder.

Holmes Architecture is a result of combining an intimate knowledge of the construction process, with an intuition and passion for architecture and design.

“I completed my architectural degree in 2013 and basically went straight into sole practice. I saw that there was a market for bespoke architectural design that was grounded in the realities of construction and client needs. I guess you could say the business has grown organically from there,” Mike says.

The experience to date has been one of seizing opportunities as they have presented and, four years on, Mike says he is satisfied with how his practice and experiences are evolving.

“It has been great adding commercial fit-out, multi-unit housing and industrial work to the high end residential and renovation work, as well as occasionally contracting to other firms to help with their workflow.”

Along with Mike, James Burke, an Architectural Technician has joined the company and has been full-time for the past year.

“James has added another dimension to the practice with his huge depth of knowledge in compliance, documentation, design and detailing.

Gaining recognition with three awards in this year’s ADNZ Design awards has certainly elevated the sectors awareness of the design standard of the practice.

Especially pleasing he says because the two categories, one up to 150msqm, the other over 300sqm really show-cased that great design is not incumbent only on having a lot of space to work with.

The Herbertville Bach, in Hawke’s Bay, took line honours in the up to 150sqm design and also received the Resene Colour in Design Award.

“Timber has been used extensively throughout the design with silvered macrocarpa cladding and structural glulam timber portals.

It sits over-looking the beach really comfortably and is designed to not only be a hub for larger family gatherings but also for the owners to enjoy on their own.”

The judges not only mentioned the beautiful use of timber but praised the home’s decking design to cleverly dramatise the entrance sequence.

“I was fortunate to be given a very open brief. The owners wanted something that was comfortable for two people as well as for extended family gatherings.

“The blue colour accents inside draw a connection with the sea beyond and play-off the combination of clear and stained finished timber inside.”

The other award, for a Martinborough house for retired farming couple Lachie and Bindy McLeod was at the other end of the spectrum.

“They had sold up and moved into a new lifestyle subdivision in town. “The judges commented positively about how the home’s design related so well to the site,” Mike says.

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“It sits on a large open site and it was challenging to position the home in a way that connected well to outdoors, while maintaining sheltered outdoor living areas.”

Mike enjoys designing using engineered timber products with their inherent durability and structural integrity allowing for simplified detailing and finishing.

Mike says planning work has just got underway with a multi-unit precinct on a subdivided section. “We’re seeing a lot more intensification of land.

Where once a house would have a large section, private owners are choosing to subdivide under utilised land and add dwellings.

“I’ve seen examples that in my view have been done quite poorly in terms of relating to the site and the existing home. Intensification can be a great benefit to a city but has to be done sensitively.”

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Projects are taken on in Wellington and Wairarapa, however recently Mike designed, what he describes as a ‘suspended black box’ of some 60sqm in Queenstown.

“I enjoyed this project because I am always conscious of not being wasteful with space. When you are working with very small areas you have to really think through design carefully.”