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ARCHITECTURE   24 September 2009, 11:46AM

CREDIT: Structural Integrity Ltd (Added by Hunt & Peck Multimedia) - 2579 views ID: 6361

Queenstown Designer in 3D Guggenheim Competition

Queenstown Architectural Designer Graham Roebeck of Structural Integrity Ltd has entered an elegant winged shelter in an International Design competition organised by the New York Guggenheim Museum. Dubbed ‘Kotuku’ after the New Zealand White Heron, it is inspired by the Japanese origami crane. “The inspiration came while I was on the phone,” Roebeck says. “I was playing with paper right angled roof forms over squares and wanted to resolve it further. I’ve always been intrigued by the way Japanese houses and apartments transform spaces, by concealing the items not being used at the time. Floor mats get pulled out of cupboards and bedding gets tucked away in the same space. So the room and cupboards are dual use, whereas in the West, we have spaces dedicated to single uses. The competition was an ideal vehicle to explore this.”

The Google SketchUp/ Design IT Shelter competition recieved over 600 entries.  Strict guidelines called for a small space to study and sleep, no more than 9.05 square metres in floor area and no more than 3.6m high. “I started with the floor plan, then made space fore and aft by raking the glazing to provide summer shade. When you sit down at the desk, you feel as if you are sitting at the controls of a plane or spacecraft- well protected and encapsulated. It’s very well insulated, made from zinc cladding to polystyrene sandwich panel and a steel exoskeleton. All the touchy feely bits will be high grade, natural materials like sisal carpets and timber lining.” The competition prohibits electricity, running water or gas services to be used. “We use our 3D models to create a plasma cutting list for the steelwork, so it’s a high tech, lo-fi design. ‘Ascetic aesthetic’, if you like.”

Asked if there are any clients, Roebeck says not yet. “I designed it to be built, and there definitely are skills and expertise here in Queenstown to make it happen. I’d certainly like it to go into limited production and it could well prove to be a niche export product.”

For the competition and actual location was required, Jacks Point, at the foot of The Remarkables was chosen. “It’s an amazing location; just achingly beautiful scenery and such serenity. Perfect really.” The Jacks Point developers, Darby Partners Ltd, bent over backwards to help, supplying Dave Comer’s stunning photos and models of the terrain and of The Remarkables themselves. “How cool is that, to have an internationally recognised mountain range modelled in 3D. I’m blessed and so grateful to them.”

Like the Kotuku itself, the design features a folding gull winged roof, that forms a wall when closed and single or double verandahs when open. A desk folds out of the floor, with storage space in the footwell. When closed, the desk folds flat, forming a smooth fuselage. A Boffi timber ‘Sling’ forms the bed, and stacks against the wall during the day or can be moved anywhere outside for rest under trees or by the pool. “The concept is definitely designed for mooching,”says Roebeck, “and the water feature is integral- the Kotuku is a wading bird.”

The competition also provided an opportunity to create a short movie. “We’ve done some sketchy animations before, but it’s the first time we’ve done anything like this. I had a fever with the flu, at the time, could hardly get out of bed and burst my eardrum blowing my nose. I couldn’t do it justice, but better a good set of plans today than a perfect set tomorrow. We made the deadline. Just.”

The video can be viewed on Youtube with the keyword ‘kotuku’ or by going to

Queenstown Designer in 3D Guggenheim Competition   24 September 2009 INDEX