Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) New Zealand Architecture Award for Abodo Showcase, Cardrona

Assembly Architects were thrilled to be awarded a Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects New Zealand Architecture Award for Small Project Architecture for the Abodo Showcase in Cardrona. The awards recognise the very best of New Zealand architecture in the programme year. The award was announced at an awards ceremony at the Christchurch Town Hall, but was received by the team in person at a satellite event at Amisfield, Queenstown.

Joining the Assembly team on stage at Amisfield was Daniel Gudsell, Abodo Founder, builders Bryce Dunlop and Brian Muir of Dunlop Builders, and Fearghal McGuinness of Sullivan Hall Structural Engineers. Architect Justin Wright acknowledged the work of the team, especially Marcus Kirk, and went on to comment on the vital importance of carbon reduction and how using the NZ produced timber resource from Abodo assists that.

Abodo Founder Daniel Gudsell reinforced these statements. “No longer can we use slow grown, imported timbers to build premium homes and structures. This building is a showcase of what can be achieved when we think differently – it is designed to inspire others”

The jury citation, read out at the event and published in an awards book presented on the night, read:

Despite all the signifiers of a house, this showroom for a timber structural and cladding supplier is instead a beautifully crafted display box of the best qualities of its product. Precision and control are demonstrated across the fully clad timber exterior screen, as well as the expressed internal structural framing. The building itself confirms the promise that this timber product is strong and will not warp, and in doing so fulfils its intention as a showcase for the manufacturer. Experimentation with the various products extends through the fitout and floorings, creating an overall effect of a precise and elegant container, inside and out. When is a house not a house? When it is a showroom.

Following on from recent wins in the Te Kāhui Whaihanga New Zealand Institute of Architects Southern Architecture Awards and the Interior Awards, Dan also commented “We didn’t build the Cardrona Cabin to win awards – although they have been gratefully received. We built the cabin to showcase New Zealand’s finest product design, architectural design and craftsmanship”.

Interior Awards 2020 Retail Award for Abodo Showcase

At a glamour award ceremony on 8 October at St Mathews in the City, Auckland – Abodo Showcase was announced as the Retail Award winner of the Interior Awards 2020. The Assembly team were unable to make it to the award event, but were informed of the news by the Abodo client Dan Gudsell, who attended the event.

The jury said:

“This year’s retail category was notable for building supply retailers using their showrooms not just as places to display their wares, but as living proof of what their products are capable of. Within this trend, the Abodo showroom was a laudable example.”

“It combines typologies – residential and retail – to challenge the showroom model. Located in a challenging alpine climate, the building itself is a tour de force of its products’ capabilities. The simplicity of the design, both inside and out, belies the devoted attention to detail and construction by all. The life-cycle of the project was considered and a reuse solution was built into the structure. This showroom received unanimous positive votes, thanks to its design, methodology, creativity and sustainability intent.”

This is a first for Assembly in the Retail category of the Interior Awards. Assembly won the Emerging Design Practice in the Interior Awards back in 2012 in the inaugural awards event.

This nears the end of the 2020 awards season, with Abodo also collecting an NZIA Southern Architecture Award, and being short-listed for the NZIA New Zealand awards which are due to be announced in on 4 November.

Full citations and award winners are shown here: https://architecturenow.co.nz/articles/winners-announced-interior-awards-2020/

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.  

Abodo, Cardrona announced

Abodo_by Assembly Architects ODT

A $6 million development starting in the Cardrona Valley early next year is not designed to showcase holiday chalets but a new eco-friendly radiata pine product, used as cladding for both internal and external use.

Abodo Wood director Daniel Gudsell, of Auckland, said he expected it to take some time to build up interest and orders for the cladding but the chalet development would introduce the product to the market.

“We wanted something suitable for the dry and harsh conditions in Central Otago,” he said in an interview.

Builders would expect untreated radiata to last “only two or three years” outside, but Abodo’s “baking process” altered and strengthened the soft timber’s cellular structure, he said.

The process was developed in Finland more than 20 years ago.

Abodo steam-heats and “bakes” clear-grained radiata pine to about 230degC without the addition of chemicals, which doubles its stability and leaves it with just 7% moisture content.

It can be left in its chocolate coloured finished state or penetrating oil can be applied to produce a range of finishes.

The chalet development is using Arrowtown-based Assembly Architects and Mr Gudsell said local builders would soon be employed, while internal fittings would be made in a local joinery shop.

Aside from individual houses, it is Abodo’s first outright South Island development.

Abodo is an Auckland-based private family business, with a $45million annual turnover. It exports about 70% of its products to Australia, the UK, Western Europe and Southeast Asia.

Mr Gudsell concedes the company “is playing the long game” in the Cardrona Valley, in that new materials have to be seen to be working, and weathering local conditions.

However, he hopes the importation of Canadian cedar from 200-500 year-old trees will eventually diminish.

“People can see it [up] for two or three years and can then decide to take it seriously,” he said.

The Vulcan Cladding complies with the New Zealand Building Code, has a 15-year warranty against decay and is certified by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, under its Codemark programme.

Mr Gudsell wanted people to see that aside from being chemical-free, there was a local alternative to imported cedar that could withstand the harsh alpine climate.

He added most people did not realise much of the imported high-grade cedar was from old-growth trees, which had damaging ecological, economic and cultural impacts in the country of origin.

The first development phase in the Cardrona Valley will be a 102sqm show home, architecturally designed to evoke local farm sheds and huts.

After that will come seven stand-alone chalets of about 150sqm, each with three or four bedrooms. The chalets will be rented to visitors.

Some Abodo timber components were used in the construction of Camp Glenorchy’s sustainable cabins two years ago.

Mr Gudsell said there were no plans to sell the Cardrona accommodation chalets, as he wanted them to be a “showcase village” for Abodo’s Vulcan Cladding, which was also certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

“It’s important people can see them over a period of time.”

He wanted to demonstrate how the New Zealand plantation-grown timbers performed in the challenging “hot one day, cold the next” Central Otago environment.

The more than 5000sq m block of land on Cardrona Valley Road is about three blocks away from the Cardrona Hotel.

Mr Gudsell hopes the company’s annual processed timber sales will almost double over the next three years, to about $80million. The United States will be the next offshore market to look at.

At present all the timber is from renewable North Island forests, but high inter-island transport costs already have Mr Gudsell considering buying South Island timber and having it milled locally.




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.