A talent for transformation

A talent for transformation add

There's just something about a good "doer-upper" that appeals to the DIY spirit of Kiwis, whether it's an older home in need of a lick of paint and some modernising, or a rundown structure calling for a total transformation.

This week, Defign sat down with award-winning ADNZ member Brynn McCauley to hear about a couple of his favourite alteration projects.

Brynn has always had a creative streak, and enjoyed painting and drawing from a very young age. At first, a natural fit seemed to be pursuing a Fine Arts degree at the University of Canterbury, but Brynn found himself inspired by Christchurch and its unique architecture, especially the work of Sir Miles Warren.

"Unfortunately, having fallen in love with Christchurch, I realised I wanted to pursue that architecture as a career, so that meant a move back home to Wellington to study architecture at Victoria University."

After completing his first three years of study and obtaining his Bachelor of Building Science degree, Brynn took a couple of years off to travel before returning to Wellington in 1993 to work for Inscape Design Ltd - an exciting Commercial Interior Design company on Cuba St. He worked as a designer in Wellington until 1997 when he set up his own practice, BMC Architecture Ltd where additions, alterations and new dwellings are his "bread and butter".

"I often work in collaboration with other designers and architects, and enjoy working with my clients to create an outcome for them that draws from their ideas and their relationship to their site or home, as well as working to connect to the context of each project."

One of Brynn's most notable alterations involved work on a 1910 villa - 'Ohiro Rd Alterations'. Brynn worked with the clients to turn the old house into a modern home, maximising living and family spaces. The house has been completely transformed to the rear, but to the front the form of the original villa was retained. This was an important achievement for the client. However, Brynn says that with the home's age came challenges.

"Over the course of a century, the site had acquired a rear access way off a more accessible adjacent street. This had long replaced the traditional frontal approach you would normally have when entering a dwelling. In this case, it was quite a hike to get to what had originally been the front of the home. Our designs for the renovation had to accommodate the new entry as the main access into the house. This was further complicated by the need to combine the homes formal functions with less formal activities that needed to be located off the flat sunny garden."

Brynn says that rather than reinvent the traditional porch and front door elements that are typical of a villa of this age, he chose to use a collection of shed like structures of varying heights to create those spaces, signalling the new access and entrance to the house.

"I think it is successful in that it allows family, kitchen and living areas to open out onto the sunny garden area."

Another of Brynn's successful residential alterations is Otaihanga House. Like the Ohiro Rd design, this house required drastic changes, resulting in a huge transformation. Brynn says the most difficult part of this design was working in with the very unique site.

"The house was on a very interesting site which had, as a result of severe subdivision work to the south, become a very prominent landform adjacent to the Waikanae Estuary. The challenge was to scale down the existing home so that it related better and was more in tune with its environment."

Brynn says he drew on the home's surroundings for inspiration, in an effort to relate the texture and form of the house to the structures that had traditionally lined the water's edge around the estuary.

"I think good design has a story to tell. It has something to say about the reason it"s there, the people who inhabit it and the environment in which it was created. I think we have succeeded in telling a story with this particular design. In this area, there had been a host of baches tucked in the dunes around the waterways. These were often made from makeshift materials, and were simple in form. Otaihanga House, although extensively modernised, is now a design that sits comfortably among these structures and the natural coastal environment."

Brynn has been a professional member of ADNZ for the last 14 years, and has significantly benefited from the organisation's advice and guidance when it comes to the running of his business.

"I have spent most of my working life in my own practice, and in sole practice, and being a member of ADNZ has definitely contributed to my ongoing success. It's great to have access to a bunch of talented and knowledgeable people, in the form of fellow members, as well as the ADNZ executive team. I highly value their support, which has allowed me to get on with what I really enjoy - design."

ADNZ members are at the forefront of architectural design in New Zealand, and the organisation provides its members with access to business templates, marketing assistance, and valuable media coverage through the highly coveted annual ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards.

For more info on Brynn, check out his ADNZ profile