The judges’ travelogue: Day five – Queenstown to Auckland

This week, we follow the Home of the Year 2021 judges as they embark on an ambitious architectural journey around New Zealand.

A slightly overcast morning and a sharp crispness in the Queenstown air. 

We step into a house with a naturally warm interior and designers with impeccable understanding of what it takes to create and monitor the performance of a family home. This ethos of giving back follows us all the way to Auckland where we are given a tour of an affordable housing multi-unit complex that seems to understand the need for quality, rather than cost-cutting.

Federico Monsalve, Richard Naish, and Jessica Walker.

We chat about some of the limitations of the Kiwibuild scheme and speculate on some of its potential fixes. Someone suggests the purchasing power that a government-owned construction firm could have (akin perhaps to a Pharmac for the construction industry) hence cutting layers of private contractors, herds of middle men and the associated extra costs they entail. In theory it makes sense to give a country with a housing deficit the ability to purchase land in bulk, and purchase high quality, sustainable materials in bulk to have its own, publicly funded workforce to solve a problem that affects us all. 

As similar government-owned construction schemes elsewhere show (China and Dubai come to mind) there are a myriad of challenges and logistics to overcome… but the discussion does prove to be an interesting exercise.

We re-group at Richard Naish’s home (E-Type House, Home of the Year 2015) to discuss some of the categories where strong contenders are still battling it out. 

There are merits to all of them and the group is distilling some of the pros and cons of each and often referring back to that conversation a few days earlier: what makes a home joyful, what constitutes ‘new’ or clever design solutions, and equally important: what type of home is most representative of the thinking we would like to see continuing into New Zealand’s architectural future?

The answers to some of these questions will be revealed – along with the 2021 Home of the Year and category winners – in the Jun/Jul issue of HOME.


Queenstown to Shotover River: 8kms

Shotover River to Queenstown Airport: 13kms

Queenstown to Auckland Airport: 1025kms

Airport to Manukau: 10kms

Manukau to Westmere: 27km

Words Federico Monsalve

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