Modo Architects – The Tasman View House

Nestled amongst the foothills of the Richmond Ranges, taking in the picturesque Tasman Bay and contiguous plains, the Tasman View House sits unassumingly within its environment.

It is a fine example of Modo Architects’ overriding desire to produce buildings of poetic beauty and place.

Modo’s brief for the Tasman View House was simple but not easy – ‘sleek with no bling’.

For the better part of 15 years the clients had summered in New Zealand and spent the rest of the year travelling the world by yacht. They wanted a home that integrated fluently with the landscape around it, had low running costs, and could be locked up and come home to with little fuss.

Modo responded with an eloquent, low maintenance, energy efficient design that in many ways resembles a vessel floating in the landscape.

Japanese influences throughout pay tribute to traditional Genkan (transitional) entry spaces: a romantic merging of the outdoor with the indoor, where the entry path blends into the house and once inside, you take a step up to formally enter the home.

Other Japanese influences are indicative of ‘engawa’, or veranda/walkway space, where timber screens accentuate irresistible views to the west. The cedar screens slide anywhere along the deck to account for low level sun, whilst adding texture, shadows and the comfort of an intimate enclosure, even with all the doors open.

Modo wasn’t just involved in the design process but also at a site observation level.

Director Brendon Monk says they were lucky to be able to work with the client’s builder of choice, Inch Building, as opposed to tendering for the lowest price, which is so often the case today.

“Nelson has several excellent building firms and when budget allows for a negotiated rather than tendered basis, it can help make for an enjoyable experience for everyone involved.”

Inch Building’s team of “real craftsmen”, led by an “excellent” site manager, meant Modo’s vision for their client’s home was realised to maximum effect. Though Brendon used to live in Nelson, now being based in Auckland was made all the easier with Inch Building’s exemplary communication and management throughout, which he followed up with regular site visits.

Given the clients were based overseas, this was the first entirely paperless project for Modo. Working with virtual 3D models and interactive drawings, Brendon was able to finalise the designs while on holiday in Malaysia, the clients were able to not only access, but interact with the virtual design as it developed from wherever they were, and the builder had 24/7 access to the drawings and 3D virtual model, which were easily and automatically kept up to date digitally.

Key personnel were able to remain on the same page throughout and weren’t partial to the delays and costs associated with printing and posting hard copies of sensitive documentation. It’s a proud notch in Modo’s belt.

“Even though paper is a renewable resource, it was nice not to produce a lot of rubbish,” Brendon says.

All in all the house took approximately 2.5 years from design to completion and the clients, although keen travelers, are enjoying the space so much they’ve made it their permanent base for the time being and have retired the yacht to its mooring – for now, at least.

It comes as no surprise the house received critical acclaim at the 2018 NZIA Nelson

Marlborough Awards. Even the head consent officer at Tasman District Council went out of his way to congratulate Modo for the best drawings they’d ever seen, which were a “pleasure to look through”.

Though Modo (est. 2014) is a relatively young company, Brendon is no stranger to critical acclaim and has a background of extensive experience in residential, retail, commercial, community, education, interior and landscape architectural design projects.

We have a responsibility to create buildings that respond to and engage with people and landscape, both visually” and sustainably.

Although very design focused, Brendon uses his considerable hands-on experience in the pragmatics of structure and construction, along with other learnings, like from the time he spent living and working in Japan, to draw on when considering design principles that exceed clients’ briefs. Within that, sustainability and Japanese influence have become a distinct flair.

Challenges like complex locations or timeframes are part and parcel for Modo Architects – it’s exceeding the expectations of clients, within budget, that’s the real challenge.

“We have a responsibility to create buildings that respond to and engage with people and landscape, both visually and sustainably,” Brendon says.

“Any building has to not just be totally and completely functional in every way that it’s needed to be, but also sculpturally and aesthetically pleasing. If you can achieve those, it’s a success.”

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