Business North December 2023

| 59 T T Sue Russell Small firm ‘responsive and nimble’ AZero Essential Architecture works predominantly in the residential sector, AZero Essential Architecture ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN Back in 2002, Jason Douglas, Director of Rotorua design practice AZero Ltd, decided it was time to start his own business, from managing a busy local design business, he felt he had gained the expertise required to run his own business. He began designing new homes, alterations to existing buildings, along with some commercial hotel work. “We started working from home with a contract to design a new home in Lynmore and another to extend the Rydges Hotel here in Rotorua. We completed the first 2 projects successfully and this business grew from there expanding into several commercial projects for retirement homes along with residential housing work. It just kept gradually growing through word of mouth,” Jason explains. One key client is Generation Homes Central North Island, taking in a region from Kawarau through to Putaruru and Te Kuiti, however Jason says the practice is very much about delivering design services across all spheres. “It would be fair to say that 70% of our work is in the residential sector, but we find other interesting work to give plenty of variety and challenges.” Jason’s history with design stems back from the days when his father and uncle, both draughtsmen, joined forces, taking him in as a junior. Asked how 2023 has been, Jason says it certainly has been different from last year, with a noticeable down-turn in projects getting completed. “We’re still doing a lot of design work but with the economy carrying uncertainties sometimes these projects get put on hold. We tend to find if new housing, for instance, is quieter, then there’s more renovation work crossing the desk.” The weathertightness and strengthening repair of older buildings is also becoming a niche activity, one that Jason says, provides plenty of good challenges and opportunities to be creative. When Business North spoke with Jason, work was almost completed on a substantial home renovation overlooking Lake Okareka set on a hill. What, among many things, that makes this project so special is that the home was originally renovated by Jason over a decade ago, so to have the opportunity to modernise the old bones, to bring it into a new era and to make best use of the commanding views for the owners who love to entertain, has been a real joy. “We’ve constructed a large living space cantilevered over the edge of a hill to take in the stunning view, created a further bedroom downstairs, added a new kitchen and scullery, and replaced the conservatory with a new sitting room overlooking the pool area outside. This has been a wonderful project for our clients who are the new owners and have been wonderful to work for.” Jason says great design always begins with good open conversation, to gain a sense of what the home is to be for the client. “Is it a family home, will the children be leaving soon, or is it for a retired couple? What about indoor/outdoor flow? All these things impact on what the home needs to be, so we spend a lot of time working out the initial brief and keeping the client very involved in the conversation.” Once design parameters have been established an important service to ground the cost per square metre is provided. “We get the costings down into various stages and break them down, so the client can understand where the total value of the design and build stems from. “This is really important to avoid the situation where a design and budget are not compatible.” When this has been settled a developed design is produced and further conversations take place. Jason says he and the team are looking forward to a good break over Christmas/New Year. Working with Jason is a team of 6 including senior designers, design technicians, project coordinators and support staff. “We’re a small practice and find this size works well for us. We’re responsive and nimble and very adaptable to what the market demands. “We all love living in the Rotorua district, enjoying all the lifestyle benefits this environment provides.” .",*/( %&4*(/ #6*-% JFX^ '03 " '*9&% 13*$& #6*-% 5"-, 50 %"7& 0-4&/ PS WJTJU PVS 4IPX )PNF BU ,BNBLB 4USFFU /HÃSPUP &TUBUF 5BVQP