Patterson Associates Architects: A Holistic Approach

Connecting a whole ecology of people, context, climate and environment, economics, family, culture and community, Patterson Associates Architects connects all elements to create places for living, working and playing. Images Simon Devitt

The architecture studio is based on a very simple idea; if a building can feel like it naturally ‘belongs’ or fits logically in a place, to an environment, a time and culture, then the people that inhabit the building will likely feel a sense of belonging there as well. This methodology connects theories of beauty, confidence, economy and comfort.

Mai Mai
Auckland 2007
Selected as one of the best 15 houses in the
Barcelona World Architecture Festival 2008
NZIA Resene New Zealand Award for Architecture 2008

This is a home for a couple, it reconciles two individual personalities, hunter and bird and creates a singular sense of place. A feathery motif referencing traditional Maori feather cloaks is used on the exterior white fibreglass walls. Inside, a small footprint incorporates many spatial experiences, including wide city views, a leather lined den
and an interior courtyard. Mai Mai is a term for the shelter used for hunting or bird watching. In this Mai Mai the glass surrounded sitting room sits like a private perch from which to enjoy viewing the city.

Pattersons have clients and projects as far afield as India, Singapore, Australia, Germany and China.

Seascape Retreat
A romantic beachside cottage is set into a rock escarpment in a tiny boulder strewn South Pacific cove. It is a shelter designed as a honeymoon retreat for paying guests consisting of just three rooms, a lobby, living/sleeping and a bathroom. This retreat is built using all local materials and is constructed largely from rock quarried near its site with in-situ poured concrete floors and an earth turfed roof. The structure is integrated into the escarpment above to protect occupants from falling debris. The cottage is self-sustainable in respect to on-site water harvesting and wastewater treatment. The project incorporated an extensive reforestation and re-vegetation sub project.

“We deliver bespoke and global standard buildings with no two being the same. The variety is made possible by an inventive spirit common to all. Contemporary forms, rooted in strong consideration for building usage, are underpinned by sound environmentally sustainable building principles, finished with an informed use of materials with elegant and robust detailing.

“Our team is united and motivated by architectural innovation, we bring our diverse expertise together to collaborate on work. A broad range of disciplines come together in our architectural work; including resource management strategies, model making and digital technologies, landscape architecture, sustainable design initiatives, urban planning and interior design. Each project comes from selecting individual talents to create the right ‘super team’ for particular projects.” 

The practice has won many awards. Highlights include in 2011, Patterson Associates was named one of the world’s top 21 architecture firms in the World Architecture News (WAN) 21 of 21 Award. The awards highlight 21 architects who could be the leading lights of architecture in the 21st century: “outstanding, forward-thinking people and organisations who have the demonstrable potential to be the next big thing in the architectural world; architects whose directional ideas are helping to shape the future of architecture, whilst keeping within the boundaries of commercial viability and sustainability”.

And in 2017, they won the NZIA Gold Medal award, recognising contribution to the practice of architecture and a consistently high-quality body of work. 

Last year, Thames & Hudson also published a book on Patterson’s houses: Patterson: Houses of Aotearoa. The book showcases 17 of Patterson’s recent houses, in some of the most dramatic locations in New Zealand, from stunning seascape retreats to hillside cabins. Each house reveals how Patterson’s architecture responds to the region’s breathtaking landscapes to tell the story of the country’s cultural history and to create a sense of place and belonging. This fully illustrated, large-format overview is interspersed with thematic sections that present Patterson’s key influences and the culture and lifestyles of New Zealand more broadly, particularly Maori language, history and mythology.

Wanaka House
This is a romantic vision for a farmhouse discovered on a hot summer day at the end of a long country road. The home is totally invisible in a copse of trees, right up until you are there, until you actually come across its long, low walls flickering in dappled light through the thicket that surrounds it like a cloak. You arrive at a spacious, practical, farm-like motor court in a bright sun lit clearing, bounded by long, low rural buildings that disappear into wild gardens.
The base of these buildings are constructed in very large roughly hewn stone slabs, with finely scaled charcoal blackened timber weatherboards above. Very simple, filled with family and the scent of the lake.
St Mary’s Bay House
This project inserts a new home as an inner city loft for living discreetly three storeys above the street in a heritage suburb. The building is configured in height to preserve views from an historic homestead behind. It consists of a ‘living platform’ as a large terrace, some of which has been enclosed in a glass cube. A dual inside/outside staircase accesses both.
The terrace and cube form a viewing lens from which views of Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour and the city can be admired day and night.

Local Rock House
Waiheke Island, 2010
NZIA Resene Regional Award for Architecture 2010

NZIA Resene New Zealand Award for Architecture 2011
This design creates the New Zealand residence for an expatriate family. It is sited on a steep east facing coastal escarpment just above a pohutukawa fringed white sand beach. Its materiality and composition seeks to create a ‘sense of place in New Zealand’ for this family. A rock mass forms a bridge to exploit both the sea frontage and limited westerly light. Under this, the living area nestles into the escarpment contrasting an intimate living terrace to the north-east with a grotto-like western courtyard. Bedroom areas are grouped above as finely scaled louvred lookouts at the canopy level of the pohutukawas. The building uses local materiality to become intimately scaled to ‘belong’ in its setting.

“He tangata, he tangata, he tangata,” Andrew Patterson, conceptual head of the practice says. “Design should transport New Zealanders into beautiful and exciting places in order to reveal how important our built environment is going to be to this land.”

To contact Patterson Associates Architects, phone 09 303 4004 or head to the website:

Patterson Associates Limited per
Andrew Patterson 
Ph: 64 9 303 4004
Mob: 021 922 800
Luminous Building 2
22 Garfield St, Parnell, Auckland, New Zealand 1052
PO Box 8778, Symonds St, Auckland, New Zealand 1150
Ph: 64 9 303 4004