We’d like to take the opportunity to introduce you to one of our Honorable mention winners for our "Humble Architecture: Everest Challenge" competition –  Sam Brown, Eva Albiston and Pete Taylor from New Zealand!

Sam Brown and Eva Albiston from New Zealand

Arête Architects believe in blending the planes of architecture and environment; merging the two to achieve architectural excellence.

Arête Architects seek to embrace the surrounding environment and uncover the potential within. Be it natural or built, micro or macro, interior or exterior, we strive to provide an architectural solution that will exist harmoniously within its context.

Based in Wellington, New Zealand, with an office soon to be established in Wanaka, New Zealand, Arête Architects have a global outlook, seeking solutions, information, and technologies internationally in an effort to achieve balance between the built and non-built environments we inhabit.

Founded in 2021 by Sam Brown, after seven years of practice in New Zealand with an aim of addressing architecture in a more open and collegial way, Arête Architects has grown into a flourishing architecture firm, now with four employees.

We love working closely with all stakeholders, through all stages of a project, to ensure that, as a team, we achieve something truly unique, responsive, and ethically responsible.

Brief information about the projects that you/your company have been involved with. For instance, what scale have you focused on/preferred, any significant projects where the company/ individuals have been involved?

Our practice design experience is in residential, retail, hospitality, education, and commercial interior architecture, with academic specialisation in community focused vernacular architecture. Since our inception, we have primarily focused on residential architecture with a focus on challenging the way we live and build in today's changing environment.

Prior to founding Arête Architects, while at foster+melville architects, Sam worked on several projects: the NZIA Award winning Te Auaha – Creative tertiary campus; The Marion – heritage focused inner city backpackers; and Greytown House – private residential dwelling. Pete Taylor, our scientific advisor, is currently involved with the rebuild of Scott Base for Antarctica New Zealand.

What does architecture mean to you and what is the role of an architect in your society?

As architects, we need to ensure we are broadening our architectural scope and remain excited by the next architectural challenge. A passion for the vernacular, developed into a strong drive in design approach, results in an effective architectural tool. This tool is the core of architecture to us here at Arête Architects.

It is a tool that can be used to challenge the concept of a place or engage with specialists, specific groups, and the environment. It allows us to see the world with raw openness and gives us a platform to better understand and adapt to the environmental and societal challenges our world delivers.

Our role is to assess, critique, and refine our response to such challenges to ensure that we are providing solutions that grow and evolve with the changing needs of our surroundings.

Why do you participate in architecture competitions?

In our day-to-day working lives, we are constantly constrained by budget, timeframes, material availability, time, and client preferences. Competitions give us the opportunity to produce architecture unhindered by these limiting factors, resulting in designs that are able to exist in their truest, most idealistic form.

We also use design competitions as a chance to provide a creative testing ground within our studio environment. All staff, regardless of their experience or level, are given the opportunity to contribute to the ensign concept and work to develop it into a piece of architecture that is truly reflective of the Arête practice and its ethos.

What advice would you give to individuals who struggle to decide whether it would be beneficial for them to participate in architecture competitions?

Just do it! Once you finish your educational pathway you rarely get the chance to let your design talents and ideas flow uninhibited. The time and effort can seem distracting, with no real assurance that you might win, but the experience along the way and the knowledge gained from the process are far more rewarding than the potential prize.

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