Posted On Oct 21, 2021 in Design
Standout Architectural facades and cleverly designed house plans are some of the many reasons Signature Homes has become one of New Zealand’s most reputable and trusted group builders.
We chat to Andrea Velasquez, our award winning Architectural Designer at Signature Homes Waikato, to learn about her inspiration behind some of our favourite house plans and explore the latest forecasted design trends of 2021. Andrea’s expressive yet tasteful design approach is what saw her win the best designer across the Signature Homes network.
Tell us a bit about yourself?
I've been working as an Architectural Designer in New Zealand for over 5 years. Before that, I trained and registered as an Architect in my home country of Guatemala, in Latin America.
What are you passionate about in design?
One of my passions is finding new ways of making my designs come to life through 3D modelling and creating interactive virtual reality tours. Architectural Design is a fast paced and ever innovating industry, so there are always opportunities to use new technologies and trends to create better designs for our clients.
What do you love about what you do?
Designing homes for clients within a family-centred business is a real joy. I get to experience and work with the Waikato landscape, while meeting both established and new members of our growing community. To follow the process through and see clients get to their ‘turn key’ date is special because it’s a reminder of the positive impact our work has.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in Architecture? What inspired you?
Architecture has always been my passion. Growing up in Latin American, I always felt that intimate connection between cultures and landscapes, and I wanted to explore and develop that relationship through the homes and communities we live in.
As New Zealand is blessed with its own diverse landscapes and people, it offers the perfect opportunity for innovative designs which capture these histories and vistas. Living in Raglan, I like to nurture its own character as part of my work and life.
What are the top trends you’re seeing in the industry at the moment?
Recently, I have been working a lot on Waikato’s west coast and most of my designs reflect the coastal vibes with a sleek shape and functional floor plan that allows the landscape to do the talking.
Working with lots of family-based clients, layouts need to consider more mixed use areas and how intimacy can be nurtured for both work and play. Every space counts, and my designs are specifically adapted to suit my clients’ lifestyles.
What are some of your favourite house designs that you have created and why?
Snug along the sea, the Ingham house was inspired by the landscape, vistas and contours of Rangitahi, Raglan. With this design, I envisioned a contemporary stepped house that works to capture the amazing sunny views of the Whaingaroa harbour but also preserve a sense of ease and intimacy.
Situated in the heart of Waikato’s dairy pastures, this contemporary pavilion design has been in high demand. The Autridge residence employs a mix of abodo and concrete brick cladding as part of its street appeal and inner ambience. The floorplan offers a range of communal and intimate spaces for quality family living.
Monopitch houses are one of my favourite styles. The single storey dwelling with attached ancillary was especially designed to create a harmony of privacy and community. The 365m2 house takes advantage of east and north facing pastrol views, with controlled indoor-outdoor flow.
Medium density designs are some of my most exciting projects. While working in Auckland, developing a trained eye for designing quality homes quality homes in small spaces was essential, along with an appreciation for the historic and natural character of the suburb. To best meet the needs of my clients, every square metre counts.
What are your top picks from Signature Homes plan collections?
I love the versatile floor plan of the Tomarta - 219 from our Pacific Collection, and the modern look that the strong gables offer. In fact, I have used this design in one of our new House & Land packages here in the Waikato.
The Richmond – 202 is another favourite of mine from our Pacific Collection, the design is perfect for indoor and outdoor flow, while achieving privacy between personal and social areas.
Living in the Waikato, the Tauwhare design from our Design & Build collection has been one of our best sellers and I completely understand why – it brings luxury to country living.
The stunning Greville plan from our Design & Build collection is another favourite of mine, the contemporary look and combination of materials which bring you closer to sea are my favourite elements of this plan.
What are your top tips for clients who are looking to design a home from scratch?
What is the typical process for a client working with you on the design of your home?
From the paddock to the design board – Everything starts with a site visit with the clients and the New Home Consultants to get a clear understanding of their necessities, and how they picture their new homes on their section. I want to know what elements are important for them, and what character within the vistas they want to capture.
With a clear understanding of their needs and investment level, I start designing the floor plan and elevations. With the help of virtual reality technology, I bring the design to life and present the first concept to the client with a real time walk-through. It is here that I am able to show them their future home on their section as it was already built, and work with feedback.
Who inspires you in your work and why?
Often, it is my clients who inspire me in my work because they bring to me their ideas of a perfect home, one that I try to capture and realise.
I’m inspired by architects such as Spanish Santiago Calatrava. I’ve always been a big fan of his work. The way he mixes high-tech engineering, sculpture work, and architecture on his designs brings beauty and function together in a way that is both clever and playful.
Another favourite is Zaha Hadid. I love her neo-futurism style and the way it proves that fantasy and reality can been combined. She was influential in changing our understanding of what architecture can do.