Kopupaka Reserve wins Timber Design Award

10 Mar

We are delighted to announce another successful award for Kopupaka Reserve  – this time at the Timber Design Awards held at the Pullman Hotel last night where it won in the Exterior Innovation and Infrastructure category.


Grant Bailey, Director and lead designer on the project accepted the award on the team’s behalf.

Isthmus would like to thank all who have contributed – clients, Isthmus staff, engineers and contractors, we would like to specifically  thank our Iwi contributors, Te Kawerau ā Maki, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei and Ngāti Whātua o Kaipara, of which their support added so much to this project.

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The Timber Design Awards displayed a number of projects from across New Zealand with a high level of sustainability and design thinking.

There was a unique level of creative energy that went into this project and the positive effects it will have on the water quality of the stream.

Northcote Information Centre

6 Mar


We are currently working in the Northcote community, the Community Information Centre is a small but important project for this community.

This started with Rewi Thompson and Emma Davis who were asked to use Space Cubes as the main Information Centre and look into how we could link them together with the ability to expand should more spaces be needed.
A bit of brief clarification, design development and budget realisation has lead us to two Space Cubes side by side with an adjoining deck and canopy shelter “so people can dry off from the rain before entering” – Rewi Thompson.

2.05 Illustrative Perspectives _ Layout

It is located in the parking lot of the Northcote shopping centre along Lake Road. The deck links the industrial – like containers with the leafy Magnolia tree, an in-between place where the community can come, sit and learn about what is happening in their neighbourhood.

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Building Consent was lodged in January without a hitch – all going well, the hope is that we can open the centre once it is through building consent phase… “only council can help us now”

Suit Day

3 Mar

Some of the Wellington studio team

In terms of appearance, the diverse people of Isthmus tend to reinforce the stereotype of the designer; a fondness for black, funny glasses, sharp haircuts. Compared to our clients and professional friends, we dress casually. Some might even say slightly scruffily. But once a year we sharpen up for Suit Day! That day was 1 March. Here’s how we looked:


Most of Auckland studio. 

Thanks Azmon (pictured at far left) for making this happen.


New Wellington Studio Opens

1 Mar


Last week we opened our new Wellington Studio space in Chews Lane with an event for clients, friends and our design team, fuelled by local food, craft beer, NZ wine and lively conversation.

If you couldn’t make it, come and see us at Level 5, 56 Victoria Street any time. Especially once we get the new coffee machine.


Dan Males, our Wellington Studio Leader, says a few words.


Vinegar Lane tipping point

23 Feb

one urban design framework, many architects

The new urban quarter of Vinegar Lane has reached a tipping point – more of it is built than unbuilt.

Masterplanned by Isthmus, owners of the 30 freehold lots have been free to select their own architects to design buildings that slot into the urban design framework. Designs are informed by the Vinegar Lane Design Manual which seeks to provide variety within the whole. Each lot is permitted 100% site coverage and a 4 storey (15m) height limit. Resource consents for each lot were pre-approved; leaving detailed designs to pass through the Vinegar Lane Design Review Panel and ACs’ building consent process. If the pre-approved resource consent envelope was challenged, new consents had to be applied for (this has happened in a couple of cases).

So, while construction is yet to begin on a number of lots, it’s now possible to imagine what Vinegar Lane will feel like when complete. When fully built-out the site will yield a density of 190 dwellings per ha gross (including lanes within the site), or 280 dwellings per ha net. High density mixed-use achieved within a mostly 4-storey height envelope.



We believe this ‘kiwi urbanism’ approach can be adopted elsewhere across the city. Such development could increase the density of the inner suburbs massively while maintaining the fine-grained variety that feels right for Auckland. Choosing the right sites, without resorting to bulk and height, and dividing them up into small and affordable parcels, puts development in the hands of small-scale private investors. Most of the lots will be owner-occupied, while also generating an income from commercial and residential rents. At Vinegar Lane baby boomer savings are being used to build a new Auckland.

Client: Brady Nixon, Progressive Enterprises

Urban Design Panel: Gavin Lister, David Irwin, Pete Bossley

Urban Design and Landscape: Isthmus

Architects: Various

Photos: David St George.

Wellington Open Studio 22 Feb

19 Feb




Onehunga Apartments

9 Feb


Located in the heart of Onehunga, this proposed development – by Isthmus’s integrated team of architects, urban designers and landscape architects – will provide 50 apartments and two commercial spaces, arranged in three blocks around a landscaped podium. A centrally located pedestrian street leads to a generous landscaped plaza and lush gardens that will provide a social hub and a shared ‘back yard’ that speaks of the site’s volcanic history and fertility.

Project architect Scott Donnell says,

Floor plates expressed as projecting ‘ribbons’ with deep balconies are used as a formal device that reference the terracing evident on the prominent local maunga of Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill and Te Pane-o-Mataoho/Mangere Mountain”. 

The horizontal emphasis also serves to reduce the apparent height of the buildings when viewed from the surrounding neighbourhood. Robust materials have been selected to wear in, not wear out; a refined/raw palette of concrete, wood, steel and foliage.

Resource consent has been lodged.



Architecture and Landscape Architecture – Isthmus  (Design: Scott, Alistair, Andre, John, Sean, Greta, Hew, Marcus. Visualisation by Chris).

Planning – Campbell Brown

Structural Engineering – Structure Design

Civil Engineering – MSC Consulting

Traffic Engineering – Commute