Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Southern Architecture Awards 2020

Assembly were thrilled to receive three awards in the Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) Southern Architecture Awards. Presented online this year, the awards were announced by actor and director Jennifer Te Atamira Ward-Lealand, CNZM.

The awards event can be watched here.

New Zealand Institute of Architects Southern Award 2020 in the Small Project Category for Abodo Showcase, Cardrona https://www.nzia.co.nz/awards/local/award-detail/8845 The project also received a Resene Colour Award.

New Zealand Institute of Architects Southern Award 2020 in the Housing Category for Bendemeer House, Queenstown https://www.nzia.co.nz/awards/local/award-detail/8838

New Zealand Institute of Architects Southern Award 2020 in the Housing Category for Scott House, Mt Barker, Wanaka https://www.nzia.co.nz/awards/local/award-detail/8875 The project also received a Resene Colour Award.


This would be a great place to Work From Home…

On 16 March 2020 the Assembly team commenced “working from home” in response to social distancing cues and in advance of the office Government lock down.

We remain working on projects and our contact details remain the same, however there is no one in the assembly studio to answer the phone, so please use the mobile phone numbers at this time. Emails remain the same.

We welcome inquiries for new projects. We can assist with project feasibility and due diligence if you are in the planning stages of a project, and can prepare documentation for consents and construction.

Stay safe. Kia Kaha x

Louise Wright 021560998

Justin Wright 021565363

Kiwi-made eco-timber could replace unsustainable imported cedar


Abodo’s showcase Cardrona cabin has been carefully crafted to demonstrate a local alternative to imported old-growth cedar.

Eco-timber company Abodo Wood is demonstrating how local alternatives can be used to replace unsustainable imported timber from old-growth forests.

The company has imported Finish thermal treatment technology and applied its own patented finishing process to come up with a timber cladding that endures harsh conditions and mimics exotic wood grain patterns.

Abodo director Daniel Gudsell said New Zealand imported an estimated $100 million worth of cedar from old-growth forests a year.​

Abodo treated pine with a combination of high temperatures and steam to make it more durable, before cutting and gluing it back together in a different orientation, giving it added stability and a grain that looked more like cedar than pine, he said.

The process is chemical free.

Abodo Wood director Daniel Gudsell says the company plans to build another nine chalets in Central Otago.

“The way it’s oriented affects the way it weathers. Vertical grain faces the weather, which means it cracks less and is more stable outside. Then the coating lasts longer and it needs less maintenance,” Gudsell said.

While still a premium product, it cost slightly less than imported cedar, he said.

In an effort to prove the product to locals in Central Otago, known for its harsh alpine weather, Abodo spent over $1.5m building a cabin to showcase the timber, near the Cardrona Hotel.

Abodo had plans to spend millions more to build nine other chalets of various sizes and finishes. The chalets would be used for tourist accommodation.

Once thermally treated the timber is a chocolate colour, but can be tinted in a variety of colours. The treatment is completely chemical free.

“People from Central Otago are notoriously suspicious of building materials that they don’t know. There’s a reason for that. They have got a different environment from the rest of New Zealand. They are a big users of imported cedar. They like it, they trust it,” he said.

“We wanted to show that you don’t have to use timbre from 200- or 300-year-old trees, you can use New Zealand pine and get a really nice architectural finish.”

Reflecting the historic nature of Cardrona township, the cabin’s simple gable form is a contemporary interpretation of rural huts and sheds found scattered across the region.

The 102-square-metre show cabin, designed by Arrowtown’s award-winning Assembly Architects and built by Dunlop Builders of Wanaka, took about eight months to complete.

The majority of pine comes from the Kaingaroa Forest in the central North Island, the largest pine plantation in the country. Abodo processed the timber at a factory in nearby Reporoa.

Abodo had partnered with a local sawmill, which funded the majority of factory construction because of the work it would generate.

Abodo imported the two kilns for the thermal treatment at a cost of roughly $2.5m each and would import another one in the next few years, Gudsell said.

Gudsell said the company had a turn over of about $55m a year and said the kilns were operating at about 75 per cent capacity.

The company would increase production in line with its export growth, which was currently 70 per cent of the business, he said.

Abodo Wood says the local market is about 30 per cent of the business.

However, the treated wood represented only about 35 per cent of sales and Abodo produced around 10,000 cubic meters a year. 

Focussing on Australia, the United States, Britain and Europe, Gudsell said Abodo’s growth would come from the thermally heated timber. 

“What we’ve found is that there is a trend towards timber cladding,” Gudsell said.


Stackbrae Wanaka wins NZIA Southern Architecture Award 2019

Assembly Architects won an NZIA Southern Architecture Award in the category of Multi-unit Housing for the Stackbrae subdivision, Wanaka at the awards event held at Skyline Queenstown on Friday 7 June 2019.

The jury cited: “The individual components of the project are simple designs that respond to the Central Otago climate, but the careful planning gives the neighbourhood a cohesive quality that is greater than the sum of its parts. The architects have talked the talk and walked the walk in convincing a developer client to trust them and aspire to excellent outcomes.”

The  jury was made up of Invercargill architect Roger Beattie, Queenstown architects Bronwen Kerr and Mark Gray and Auckland architect Megan Rule. 

Stackbrae is an alternative quality model for suburban development, in a context where architects and design seldom have influence and group-home design and build dominate.  The project involved master planning the subdivision, and the design and consenting of 31 homes, both stand-alone and duplex.

The Wanaka based developer sought a strong design outcome and with the architects devised a new market model – investing in master planning, and the design and building consents for every home.  

The principle was simple: maximise sun, privacy, views and quality outdoor space.   Dwellings are predominantly L shaped, massing on lot edges allowing sun into the middle of the site, directly challenging district plan setback rules.  Boundary walls are without windows and rendered in quality materials, making fences redundant. Land packages were sold with consented plans and a covenant to build in accordance.  

This model contributed to a cohesive development, and eliminated design and consenting time and cost for purchasers, so homes could be built without delay after settlement.  

NZIA National Award 2018 shortlisting x2

This week, Architecture Now announced the shortlist for the New Zealand Institute of Architects national awards programme.  Two Assembly projects have made the shortlist – Sawtooth in the housing category, and Binoculars in the multi-unit housing category.

The two projects are the only Queenstown Lakes projects on the Shortlist.  The houses will be visited in person by the National Jury, led by Convenor Richard Goldie.

Binoculars recently won accolades at the Master builders awards for Bennie Builders.





Assembly designed Stackbrae features in the latest HOME New Zealand magazine in their “off the shelf” section dedicated to solving the housing crisis with clever thinking…

Pick up a copy today!

HOME August 2018 Assembly

Binoculars wins NZIA 2018 Southern Architecture Award

2018 Southern Architecture Awards WinnerBinocularsQueenstown copy

The Binoculars houses picked up a New Zealand Institute of Architects 2018 Southern Architecture Award at a ceremony held at Toitu, Otago Settlers Museum on Friday 8 June.  The project won the only award in the multi-unit housing category.

Clients Paddy and Brian Stafford-Bush were thrilled with the award, and celebrated the award with their daughter Mia and son-in-law James Bennie of Bennie Builders, who built the award winning home.

The award citation is below:


Two houses with mirrored plans share a site, a wall and an entrance to make a complete whole. Two homes, twice the fun? The eye is not cheated here; the level of detailing elevates materials beyond their fundamental form, and everywhere you look there is something in which to take delight, including out front, where twin decks, seemingly unsupported, push bravely out towards the lake.