Why did you start DF Design?
I arrived in New Zealand in 2008, at the height of the global financial crisis, and there wasn’t much work for a foreign graduate architect. Not long after, I was offered a construction job in Queenstown, this created a great opportunity to learn more about New Zealand construction methodologies and the various building codes. During this time, I was approached by colleagues to design small additions which then progressed to houses at Jacks Point and Whitianga. This gave me an opportunity to turn my passion into a profession and DF Design was born.
What was the vision for your practice?
Growing up in Germany, I was used to warm and healthy homes during the long cold winters. One of the first things I noticed about New Zealand homes was the poor thermal performance. I knew this was something that I personally wanted to address with my work. My vision was to combine proven European building techniques with beautiful design that was cohesive to specific environments. I have always aimed to produce sustainable and practical architecture that is economical to live in and stands the test of time.
What has been your most memorable project?
There are many projects that come to mind, but it would have to be 'Redwood Downs'. It is our family home that was built with timber that grew on our property. Someone with great vision planted a number of Redwoods, Cedar and Eucalyptus, each one of them beautiful and with fantastic building properties. The home represents all the design principals I believe in. It is well insulated, airtight and economical to run. The open style makes it sociable and spacious, while the views are framed to draw the outside in and it is well connected to the outdoors. It has accents of Europe which makes it personal to me and I love every day that I live in it.
You talk a lot about sustainable architecture, what is it that makes it so attractive to you as a designer?
All life on this planet relies on balance. The world’s population is growing and we only have limited natural resources available that are consumed with rapid speed. I believe sustainable living is the right and perhaps the only way to protect what we still have and to regain balance.
You spent part of your career as a carpenter, how did this time influence your architecture career?
I love working with timber. I love the look, feel, smell and it being a sustainable and a renewable resource. My carpentry background and appreciation for craftsmanship allows me to think like a builder and completely understand their challenges. This experience enables me to make well considered design decisions and produce highly detailed drawings which are appreciated by builders and clients.
What projects would you like to do more of and why?
I love working with beautiful surroundings that can inspire and drive the design process. It is great to work with open-minded clients that have a realistic budget and trust your ability as a designer. To create a design that is respectful to its surroundings, reflects the clients brief and has a low environmental impact-I would describe as my perfect project.