Phillip Howard | Meet Our Presenters

26 July 2021

Clearwater Quays Architecture: Showcasing Wood in Design for Apartment Living

Phillip Howard, Principal & Registered Architect, Pacific Environments

For architects, the attraction of working with timber goes beyond the clear environmental benefits of net-zero carbon buildings. There is a sensory connection to timber, a tactile experience of enduring appeal. Inspired by Biophilic design principles our practice firmly believes that humans have an innate need to connect with nature, and the use of natural wood plays a part in this connection. The Pacific Environments designed buildings which have showcased wood, remain some of our most popular projects. The whimsical Yellow Treehouse and The Waiheke Island Library winning both category and overall supreme New Zealand Timber Design Awards. 

Showcasing wood in apartment design comes with its own unique set of challenges, particularly if you want to honestly express mass timber structural elements. Maximizing this exposure requires loving relationships between architects, engineers and contractors. And yet often, despite this love and attention, the timber in a mass timber building is reduced to a shy hero, clothed in layers of plasterboard. Whilst there are many valid reasons for this, there are certainly some methodologies that could be challenged.

Our presentation will ask how we can better utilize the symbiosis of our working relationships with industry partners, accepting each other’s faults and eccentricities, to ensure the aesthetic and tactile quality of timber is expressed in all its beauty.


1 – 2 March 2022, Rotorua, New Zealand

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