Designer Profile – Jon Ambler

Designer Profile – Jon Ambler add

The team at AD Architecture are known for their functional, modern and sustainable designs. This week, Defign sat down with director and ADNZ member, Jon Ambler to hear about some of his work on the Kapiti Coast.

Jon initially started work in a technical field, training and working as a draftsperson. Although this wasn't a design-focussed role, it did force him to be continually thinking about buildings and how they fit together.

"The design component developed when I went to Europe for my OE in the mid-90's where I saw and appreciated the history and design story behind some of the world's great buildings and also observed the diversity of styles based on culture, locality and affluence. It was a fabulous experience which opened my eyes to the world outside New Zealand," he says.

Jon went on to study at what was then known as Wellington Polytechnic and qualified with a Certificate of Architectural Draughting. He worked from home for a time, focussing on small additions and alteration work before he established Kapiti Coast design practice, AD Architecture with fellow architectural designer, Peter Davis.

"We saw the Kapiti Coast as an area that had the potential to develop rapidly once a couple of key infrastructural components fell into place. We wanted to establish a practice that could offer Coasters a great local option for quality design and documentation - especially relevant for commercial opportunities as Kapiti had been underdeveloped on that front."

At AD Architecture, Jon works on a variety of commercial and residential projects. He's worked on everything from housing and offices, to retirement and educational facilities and leaky house remedial work.

One of his best known projects is the North Face Beggs Residence design. The clients required a contemporary, sustainable home with a layout suitable for their family and with strong design features that are visible from the street.

"The house is situated on the southern side of the double section so that the clients can access the outdoor area directly from a large open-plan living/kitchen/dining area."

The clients were also interested in incorporating sustainable components into the home so one of the main goals of the design was to showcase the Digital Self Heating Home (DSHH) system.

"It's a great system which automatically balances and optimises solar/PV/thermal mass energy to give the best use and efficiency of energy throughout the house. With the DSHH, you can store excess heat in a rock store under your concrete slab for later use. The Beggs house is a large home which really benefits from this system. It uses only 10% of the energy of a conventional home, and costs next to nothing to run, with an even temperature of 20 degrees all year round," explains Jon.

Jon says the sustainability aspect of the design has greatly contributed to its overall success.

"It's been extremely popular with the public. People like the fact that it is not only an attractive and modern design, but that it also has these added sustainable and energy efficient elements."

Another of Jon's most memorable designs is the Mears Bach in Waikanae Beach. This alteration was for two Wellington families who wanted a classic Kiwi bach with a twist to escape to on long weekends and holidays.

"It needed to have all the mod cons and to take advantage of indoor/outdoor flow and the stunning sea views. They didn't want to create a typical suburban home - they wanted something more in keeping with the relaxed beach lifestyle that the location offers," says Jon.

As with many alterations, there were some challenges to this design that related to the age of the original home

"It was pretty old and in desperate need of some love. When the claddings were removed, a lot of the original structure was found to be rotten or generally in very bad shape. This resulted in a lot more structural work than we initially anticipated."

Jon lives just 100 metres down the road from the Mears Bach, and says that he enjoys looking back on the project with a feeling of satisfaction.

s a passionate designer, Jon signed up as an ADNZ member 12 years ago, and has spent the last three years on the Regional Executive, including some time as Regional Chair. He says he has benefitted immensely from his membership, as a designer and as a business owner.

"ADNZ is a wonderful organisation that offers industry education, collegiality, and exposure to unique design and designers that you would struggle to find outside of the organisation. It gives us a powerful voice in an industry that is full of people wanting to be heard. ADNZ designers are becoming highly regarded in the industry as not only exceptional designers, but also important industry stakeholders."

For more on Jon, you can check out his ADNZ profile.