By The People, For The People

29 Sep



As part of the recent RMLA Conference held in Nelson Isthmus sponsored Mike Lydon’s keynote session on providing ”a blueprint for the sustainable planning of cities”. Mike is a like-minded designer that occupies the territory smack in the middle of community and transformation projects – through ‘tactical urbanism’. He delivered an engaging presentation that related to people and their relationship with cities.

His concepts and principles provide a catalyst to urban renewal and regeneration. They provide the glue for a citizen led, bottom-up approach to long term gains – “short term action for long term change”. They also provide a ‘build, measure and learn’ process for challenging and testing the status quo in the creation of planning policies for these sorts of urban projects.

Fuelled by our enthusiasm for tactical urbanism, we managed to wrangle Mike into our Auckland studio this week for a ‘brown bag’ in between his  packed itinerary with Panuku. Among other things, Panuku have had Mike back for a ‘health check’ on the “Activate Auckland” programme he helped kick off last year, in part to mitigate the disruption of the CRL.

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Kiwi & Kereru

27 Sep
The following is a TXT conversation between Rewi Thompson and David Irwin over the weekend. The two of them discussed the meaning of land and NZ culture by SMS.
It’s an illustration that ideas are not confined to the weekday and often come at different times of the day and night and sometimes it is important to share these. It’s an example that thoughts and ideas can be described using analogies. It’s an example that design ideas can be generated using words not just through drawing. In fact ideas and design can be communicated in any form from a pile rocks to sketches, to a moving image, to an essay or txt exchange. It is also important that we understand the values we as kiwis bring to our design work, that we understand them and can articulate them.
Following the development of the Northcote project David and Rewi were discussing the qualities of the outdoor space of the smallest lot and house they had previously designed into stage two of Northcote, a 4.2m x 22m = 92m² lot, a 2 bed terrace house of 4.2m x 10m making it 42m² per floor or 84m² and private open space of 4.2m x 5m = 21m² basically the smallest unitary plan complying house.
The question at play was the quality of private open space on the ground.
“So, there it is a New Zealand way of thinking about how we live in the sky. It’s not ground, and like our bird friends, we are being forced there. We need to learn to live in a new way like a Kereru does. Once this is accepted, we can go higher and higher and enjoy our lifestyle in the sky, high in the branches of our conceptual tree.”
– David & Rewi

RMLA Awards

27 Sep

A small isthmus delegation attended the excellent RMLA* conference in Nelson last week, and were joined by others for the awards dinner on Saturday night.

Nearly 400 leading resource management practitioners gathered to attend RMLA’s Annual Conference and Awards in Nelson over the weekend.  A total of ten organisations and three individuals walked away with awards recognising their contribution to the advancement, implementation and understanding of resource management best practice in New Zealand.

*Resource Management Law Association


Isthmus are very proud to have come away with two of these prestigious awards ;

Thomson Reuters Publication Award 2016

WINNER: Isthmus

Coast. Country. Neighbourhood. City.

For capturing leading-edge RMA practice in Landscape Architecture, Urban Design and Architecture in an attractive, accessible presentation.

Chapman Tripp Project Award 2016

JOINT WINNER: Hobsonville Land Company, Isthmus, Campbell Brown, Glaister Ennor, Isthmus_Construkt_JV

For setting a benchmark in the delivery of sustainable new communities in New Zealand in the development of Hobsonville Point.

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Introducing Ginny Pedlow

20 Sep


We are very excited to welcome architect Ginny Pedlow to our team. Over the past 15 years Ginny has been an integral part of Mitchell + Stout Architects. Ginny comes with a wealth of experience in residential and non-residential design having worked on projects such as Unitec Institute of Technology, the Tauranga City Art Gallery and Titirangi’s Lopdell House Redevelopment.

After graduating from the University of Auckland School of Architecture in 1985, Ginny worked in London and Paris, concentrating on resorts and boutique hotels. She has an extensive background in heritage buildings, civic works, educational & tourist attractions, educational facilities, residential dwellings and medium density apartments. Her own house in Westmere has been published in Home Work: Inside the homes of 20 leading New Zealand architects. 

Ginny is an active member of Architecture+Women.NZ. She will be joining us as a Principal.



Taumanu Bridge shortlisted for WAN Infrastructure Award

14 Sep

The pedestrian bridge that links Onehunga to the newly created Taumanu Reserve is one of six international projects shortlisted for WAN’s Infrastructure Award.


It is one of two Auckland projects – the other is the LightPath.  The other four are cycling bridges in Iceland, a biomass plant in the UK, a dune carpark in Holland and a transit station at the University of Washington.



5 Sep


First announced to the Wellington community in 2014, the Children’s Garden is moving forward after Wellington City Council has pledged an additional $1.1 million of funding to ensure the project progresses, with sights set on opening in 2017.

Local school children have been involved in the planning and design process and some joined Mayor Celia Wade-Brown in the sod turning for the garden earlier this year.

Construction of phase one is now well underway, with many of the large retaining walls and service infrastructure installed. The vision is starting to come to life with set out of the oversized trench walls and floating oak tree deck and construction of the learning pavilion to begin in the coming months

The aim is to create a hands on playful landscape where children are free to explore and intuitively interact with nature with a focus on learning through enjoyment about plants for food, fibre, construction and medicine.


City Councillor and environment portfolio leader Helene Ritchie has this to say about the gardens:

“In an increasing densely populated city, this garden will assume even greater importance in Wellingtonian’s lives, giving them an added opportunity to be in touch with nature.”

We look forward to the progression of this project over the coming months!

Wellington’s rapid growth.

26 Aug

Founded in a Remuera garage in 1988, Isthmus’ name derived from the Auckland landscape, but after a few years the practice branched out across New Zealand, establishing further studios in Tauranga, Christchurch and Wellington. This decade the GFC and the Christchurch earthquake saw a consolidation to ‘one studio’ split across two cities; Auckland and Wellington.

Like Auckland, our capital-city team has grown rapidly over the last couple of years. Today there are twelve staff in Wellington, with three more arriving soon. We have an integrated team of architects and landscape architects working together on wide range of large, complex projects all over central and lower North Island, and beyond. The team are involved in designing spaces, places, buildings and networks that will help move the region forward over the next few years.

Among many other things, projects on the drawing board in the Wellington studio include: Palmerston North central city streetscapes, Lower Hutt’s Civic Gardens, Kumutoto North on Wellington’s waterfront, the Children’s Garden at Wellington Botanical Gardens, a kiwi house in Rotorua, a kea aviary at Wellington Zoo, Porirua CBD revitalisation and new cycle infrastructure around Wellington harbour.


Some recently completed work: