Starter Home Design Competition - the winners

Supreme winner: Stephen Smith
S3 Architects Limited

Stephen has 18 years' experience in the industry working for some of New Zealand's foremost architectural practices before establishing S3 Architects early in 2007. He has specialised mainly in the housing and education sectors, seeing projects through from sketch design to practical completion.

Stephen has recently been a part-time senior tutor at the Auckland University School of Architecture and Planning as well as a juror for the New Zealand Institute of Architects regional awards programme.

Stephen also wishes to acknowledge Martin King, who contributed to his competition entry. Martin has 13 years' experience in the industry gained in both the United Kingdom and New Zealand working for award- winning practices. He joined S3 Architects in 2008 and has recently been appointed as an Associate.

Stephen Smith's design and floorplan

Supreme winner Stephen Smith design.

Supreme winner - Stephen Smith's  floorplan

Judges' comments

Stephen Smith's design has excellent planning and a striking contemporary appearance that will fit well into many neighbourhoods.

The well-resolved plan can grow with additions to meet the changing needs of the owners. It combines practical planning concepts and socially and culturally sensitive design solutions, all arranged around a central outdoor courtyard.

The design combines low-maintenance materials with well-considered elevations, and it will work well as an individual house or as a cluster of similar designs.

Category 1 Winner: Tony Koia
Koia Architects Limited

Tony Koia established Tony Koia Architects in Auckland in 1995. He established the Queenstown office in 2004 to work on a growing number and range of projects. The majority of this work has been completed in residential projects, including clustered, terrace and apartment accommodation. Tony Koia Architects have enjoyed creating increasingly thermal-efficient and well-designed homes. The Starter Home Design Competition has allowed them to examine how this may be achieved cost-effectively.

Tony Koia's design and floorplan

Tony Koia's design

Tony Koia's flooplan

Judges' comments

Tony Koia's design uses a conventional plan which has been refined to give excellent living and bedroom spaces, together with a large north-facing verandah.

This is a strong design and shows how a simple and complying affordable house can be a stylish and attractive home.

Category 1 Runner-up: John Wright
John Wright Architect Limited

John is principal of John Wright: Architect Ltd, a four-person practice based in Wellington.  JOhn strudied at Victoria University of Wellington and worked in Nelson and Christchurch before starting his own practice in 1996.

He enjoys doing a wide variety of residential and commerical work, but has a special interest in social housing.

John Wright's design

Judges' comments

John Wright's design provides a 'flexi space' as the heart of the house for a variety of family activities.

The design's good planning and conventional house form will appeal to many.

Category 2 Winner: Stephen Smith
S3 Architects Limited

Same as the Supreme Winner.

Category 2 Runner-up: James Raimon
Archimedia Limited

James began his career in the construction industry where he gained a great deal of practical knowledge, skills and experience along with a diploma in construction management. This created a sound foundation for a career in architecture. After completing a diploma in architectural technology concurrently with a bachelor of architecture at Unitec, James graduated with honours and was awarded the top student year 5 in 2005. He is currently working towards registration and has gained a huge amount of experience on various projects at Archimedia. Archimedia is an award- winning professional practice delivering international standard services in architecture, interior architecture and urban design. The practice has offices in Princes Wharf Auckland and in Hamilton, and has a wide range of experienced personnel with a strong dedication to design excellence sustained over its 20-year history.

James Raimon's design

James Raimon's design

Judges' comments

James Raimon's design is based around a family space suitable for a wide variety of family activities and needs.

A modular planning concept enables the house to grow or shrink according to the needs of the owner. The shape and style of the house is contemporary but also uses design elements familiar to many New Zealanders.

There was significant attention to design detail of functional elements and modularity. The judges were impressed with the emphasis on an adaptable planning concept.

Highly Commended: Geoff Walker
Image Architecture Limited

Geoff Walker founded Image Architecture in 2007 in Marlborough.  He strives to create his clients' ideas into balanced, functional and aesthetically pleasing buildings, with a focus to create a dynamic architectural design practice.

He uses his extensive knowledge of 3D computer modelling to present realistic images to ensure the finished design. Examples of his work to date include residential housing, school work, commercial offices, golf club redevelopments, and lifestyle village developments.

Geoff is passionate about creating houses that have an environmental focus, and relished the opportunity to be involved in the Starter Home Design Competition.

Geoff Walker's design

Geoff Walker design

Judges' comments

Geoff Walker's conceptual idea of 'sanctuary' has resulted in a flexible design which works very well and is a striking and contemporary design.

A Pacific feel enhances the cluster of house forms and screened courtyards, which will give shelter and privacy.


The Department congratulates all 10 finalists, shortlisted from a strong field of 140 entries:

  • Tony Koia
  • Thom Craig
  • Stephen Smith
  • Julian Rennie
  • Geoff Walker
  • Geoff Fletcher
  • James Raimon
  • John Wright
  • Frans Kamermans
  • Trevor Wilson