Higham's 'Green Alterations' entry was the culmination of a compelling design journey. One which saw him take a weatherboard bungalow based in the quaint township of Rangiora, and transform it into a modern living environment that meets the needs of his young family.
Higham's partner bought the home off her parents more than 20 years ago and so there was a powerful desire to retain its history.
"It was a really personal project for my partner and I. It was her family home so there was a big emotional attachment. Part of the reason we up-cycled was to keep a part of the original house as it had sentimental meaning. We are absolutely ecstatic with the win," says Jason.
If the contemporisation of a vintage beauty wasn't challenging enough, the major renovations that took place to create a spacious open-plan living environment within the 119m2 home were undertaken within the existing footprint.
This was achieved by removing a number of internal walls and relocating the kitchen - a strategy that really delivered the ultimate objective. The outcome was a dining and culinary area that invited greater connectivity and socialising in a warmer, light-filled environment.
Lateral thinking helped to reinvent the back porch, providing an opportunity to introduce a multi-purpose bedroom/study accessible from the hallway and living area. Intelligent design solutions saw the existing bathroom become a space that now feels twice its original size. A custom-designed fold away shower deserves a lot of the glory for this achievement.
In honour of Jason's partner being a Natural Health Practitioner, the selection of products and materials used was governed by a commitment to a healthy living environment. Elements including natural paints, oils and varnishes, untreated plywood, recycled timber and natural stone are all stylish protagonists in this sustainability story.
A reduce, reuse, recycle and upcycle approach was also important so an environmentally and ethically responsible philosophy underpinned the process with waste minimisation and various materials salvaged on site to avoid the need for landfill. These practises extended to painstakingly repurposing and reintroducing untreated timber which was denailed and milled for reapplication so the property could stay in touch with its original roots. A galvanised steel splashback made from repurposed old roof trays also pays homage to the home's historical identity.
Of Higham's ability to capture such special moments in time within the context of a modern living environment, the judges said: "A 1950s bungalow has been successfully adapted to the needs of a contemporary family. This understated house packs an outsized design punch via careful layout and high-quality detailing. Materiality is considered and authentic, with many materials having been successfully retained and/or upcycled from the original dwelling."