Architecture+Women NZ members Kate Rogan and Eva Nash on what they love best

What drew you two to architecture? Kate: I’ve always wanted to be an architect. My grandfather, Norman Knowles, who died before I was born, was a draughtsperson who worked  on drawings for the Auckland Harbour Bridge. I see his achievement most days and it’s a built legacy for him and my family. I guess because of this, I’ve always felt like design is in my blood. His success makes me feel as if I’m carrying on where he left off.
Eva: I grew up in a house designed by the architects who designed the Auckland Museum — Grierson, Aimer & Draffin — and being surrounded by well-crafted, considered spaces sparked an early interest in architecture. At primary school, I used to design houses for all my friends, and the desire to create buildings never left me. 

MAIN IMAGE Eva (left) and Kate (photographed by Jackie Meiring). TOP Rogan Nash Architects’ project The Blackbird (photographed by Simon Devitt). The Grey Lynn, Auckland home with two living spaces and four bedrooms shows how a well-conceived floorplan can rise above the limitations of a compact site. ABOVE Their City Chalet project in Auckland’s Parnell (also photographed by Simon Devitt) doubled the size of the house with a comprehensive extension that included the specification of the furniture and fittings too, among them this custom-designed library ladder.

How did your professional partnership at Rogan Nash Architects come about? Kate: We met at architecture school. We both knew we wanted to have our own practice and were lucky to find each other as we have so much in common, from our design aesthetic to our family values. 

Do you tackle projects separately or together? Kate: We rigorously discuss all our ideas and designs, and have so much fun working together. We find that two sets of ears listen to things differently, resulting in designs that truly reflect our clients’ wishes. 

ABOVE Also in Grey Lynn, project The Stage & The Cave (photographed by Simon Devitt) sees a heritage home transition at the rear of the long, narrow property into a contemporary ‘stage’ for living that blurs the lines between inside and out and also features cave-like spaces, including a scullery and media room. Riffing off the client’s favourite sideboard, mid-century meets villa in the refined yet relaxed interior design and character details throughout.

How would you describe the other’s key strengths? Kate: Eva’s always striving
to better herself by listening, learning and understanding. She always looks for a solution to arrive at the best outcome for the project.
Eva: Kate’s a great communicator. She takes the time to explain, listen and discuss, and is always looking for ways to share her ideas and knowledge. 

What aspect of the process of designing a home do you find most satisfying? Kate: It’s so rewarding working with my best friend and our amazing team to achieve a great result for our clients.
Eva: I love every part of the process, but it’s certainly a delight to see a happy client walking through their new home.

What do you think is the best way for someone to select the right architect or practice for their new build or renovation? Kate: Choose someone you get on with and who understands your ideas, and be really clear with yourself and the rest of the project team about what you want for your home. A great brief provides a great result.
Eva: Creating a home is a very personal experience, so for the most successful outcome, you need to find someone you trust. 

ABOVE Inside Eva’s own family home in Westmere, Auckland (photographed by Simon Devitt). The design-and-build project gave her and Kate a chance to realise some of their best ideas.

What are you looking forward to sinking your teeth into this year? Kate: We’d like to have even more engagement with the architecture community, standing at the forefront of the profession to encourage other women into architecture.
Eva: We also have some fantastic projects underway. I’m especially looking forward to seeing our new house project at Lake Okareka in the Bay of Plenty under construction and we’re hoping to break ground on a new house on Waiheke Island. Both projects embody sustainability at the core of their design, a principle that’s close to my heart. 

Where do you think the future of architecture lies in that regard? Eva: People are starting to think more about the environment and the impact of construction on it. We all need to work to reduce our waste, but there are many more things to consider when designing a house that can reduce your ongoing effect on the environment. We take a holistic approach to each of our projects, and when we’re designing, we think about sustainable-design fundamentals, such as the orientation of the house, avoiding overheating, high levels of insulation and energy-efficiency.

If you hadn’t devoted your careers to architecture, what else would you be doing? Unanimously: We can’t think of anything we’d rather do!;

Interview Alice Lines


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