Office Abroad

3 people from our team have been away travelling to various corners of the planet in the past year or so. Below is a 'moment' and a 'thought' from each, reflecting upon the built environment from each respective destination:


‘Spanish Patio’ – Andalucia, Spain

On a 37-degree day somewhere in Andalucia, we peeked enviously into these cool and verdant courtyards in private residences. How perfectly they give relief for the eye, body and soul in that climate. Shade from the sun, greenery, the sight and sound of water, surfaces cool to the touch and richly decorated. These spaces have their roots in Arabia and Persia, and are an earthly representation of the Garden of Paradise.

I think a lot about our very different climate in Wellington, and what sort of ‘outdoor room’ will work best here. We are blessed with few extremes of temperature, but there is always the wind. Copying a Spanish patio isn’t the best, but neither is copying something designed for Auckland or Hawkes Bay.

Have a look at the work of one architect who has done more thinking than copying: http://www.anewzealandhouse.com/



‘Excess’ – Burj Khalifa, Dubai, UAE

452m up, peering through the world’s highest aluminium and glass façade, on level 124 of the tallest freestanding structure ever built. Above me is the world’s highest nightclub; below me is the world’s highest restaurant. The buttressed structure was constructed using concrete laced with ice, poured through the world’s highest concrete pump, at night, in order to cope with soaring Persian temperatures and humidity. I travelled to this floor via the world’s highest elevator installation, and took this photo by sticking my arm out beyond the skyscrapers’ envelope, from the world’s highest observation deck.

For a fairly recent architecture grad foraying into the economics of fastidious Kiwi construction budgets, the excessive structure was a memorizing, confusing and inspiring experience; a physical and financial scale incomparable back home in NZ.



“Cultural Differences” - Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Malaysia is a stunning country of great mineral and agricultural wealth, but is also a country of great religious harmony and vibrant culture. It is also a country of stark contrast, from the stainless steel and glass colossus of the Petronas Towers astride KL City to the humble shack bordering a native forest barely 2 hours away.

Business men and women in suits work hard in their heavily air conditioned offices while the long-time residents of the rapidly diminishing forests are provided with a new modern dwellings. However pre-existing custom, routine and familiarity drive them to build extensions to these buildings made of traditional forest construction creating a most fascinating blend of modern and traditional architecture.