Five designs tips from the Managawhai Dune House, featured on Grand Designs NZ, to inspire your new home.
Contemporary built environments are full of harsh angles and flat surfaces, yet our body and our natural environment is full of curves. Incorporating curvature into your design can increase the sense of comfort, spaciousness and welcome in your project. One or two curves in a project will have a dramatic impact on the experience of a space, introducing intrigue and playfulness. And they aren’t as expensive as one might think.
2. Natural materials
Natural materials are typically hard-wearing and durable. Over the years, they acquire a patina that imbues character, whereas synthetic materials tend to break down and need replacing. For example, synthetic countertops vs. stone countertops. Natural materials communicate a quality of authenticity and integrity. You know that something isn’t just ‘surface level’ and will wear out, but will only get better with age.
Additionally, many building materials contain synthetic chemicals that off gas over years into the spaces we live and sleep, polluting our bodies and environment with nasty chemicals. Home should be a safe and friendly place for our body. Using non-toxic natural materials in your home not only looks good but will make you feel good too.
Many contemporary buildings are inclined to maximise light with a lot of glass. This is an excellent way to improve the passive efficiency of homes and create connection with the outside world. Like with everything though, we need balance. A dark nook can be an intentional space for rest and respite. We all need to retreat into a cosy cave now and then. At the end of the day, our bodies actually require darkness to sync our circadian rhythm and give us a good rest. While light is intrinsic to a successful architecture, it is the interplay of light and darkness that create drama and produce spaces of surprise and reprieve.
4. Finishing Touches
Everything you touch on a daily basis deserves thought and care. Fixings like door handles and staircase railings are typically bought or made towards the end of a build, when everyone is tired of talking about design. Yet, these details are what can make a good space, great. Thoughtful attention to fixings, like light switches and cabinetry, will allow them to disappear into the larger design concept. When tacked on haphazardly, they can command attention for the wrong reasons, interrupting what might be an otherwise seamless space.
5. The Big Picture
When tough moments arise, it’s easy to lose sight of what you’re working towards. Design and build processes can be fatiguing and it’s easy to get bogged down by things like consent and planning. It's important to remember why you are building in the first place.
A successful build requires a team effort. When it all feel like too much, sit down with the team and discuss what is working well, what isn’t and how to move forward. Designing any building is hard. That’s why it’s imperative that you work with highly skilled people who you enjoy working with. When the going gets tough, keep a good feeling and you’ll come out of the process with expanded capabilities, good memories and maybe a laugh or two down the line.
Written Nick Dunning of OTO Group Architecture.
As seen on Grand Designs New Zealand.