An Identity Which Reflects The Beauty Of The West Coast

From the Haast Visitors Centre to a sun drenched family retreat Gary Hopkinson’s work demonstrates an individual flare which neither imitates nor compromises but reflects the identity of the West Coast environment.

Although Gary Hopkinson’s work experience has taken him to Europe, London, Scandinavia and the United States his home and passions lie in his home town, Greymouth. 
During his career, based in Greymouth, he has played a major role in creating and shaping a style which is in harmony with the West Coast.

“Whilst we looked to Canterbury for direction it became apparent that the style of high pitched roofs and tight detail was not appropriate for the West Coast. Our style was already lurking in the background and was more suited to broad eaves for high rainfall and open ventilation for humid conditions”, says Hopkinson.
“Three main factors contribute to successful vernacular architecture. Form that is sympathetic to its setting. An appropriate roof line. Suitable building materials.

Of these roof line is of paramount importance. This is especially true away from urban areas where the building may be a single statement in an otherwise natural setting.

The relationship of the roof form to the landscape is the most important design consideration. If the form is amount of titivating will correct the damage”.

With conservation policies limiting our native timbers there has been a resurgence of the use of corrugated iron which was used extensively during the pioneering days on the West Coast. The technological improvements and longevity of this material makes it a natural choice in the West Coast environment.

While Gary believes that a building’s colours should be discrete and compliment the landscape from a “limited palette” he also recognises the visual impact and stark beauty that can be achieved with careful and deliberate design. The award winning Haast Visitors Centre is a fine example of architecture which was considered ahead of its time when built in 1992 but has stood the test of time in both form and function. To use coloursteel as a 'thin skin' stretched around the form of a building, rather than a replacement cladding, was a fresh “new” approach. The Haast visitor centre was one of the first sizable buildings to benefit from this concept of sculpturing a building.
In achieving excellence in design  and acceptance of “new” ideas Gary acknowledges that,”The available exposure to media and travel have helped make people more adventurous in their tastes but the key factor in any building will always be to fulfil the clients wishes.”

To this end Gary makes it his business to get to know his clients detailing their likes and dislikes in a very comprehensive written brief. Understanding the needs and the way every space is to be used is of extreme importance. One of Gary’s clients, John McManaway expressed it well by saying,”He knew our tastes....and it just kept getting better.” A fitting tribute to an architect who strives to achieve a result which satisfies his creative desires and his clients expectations.

Gary’s work extends far beyond the West Coast of New Zealand in a diverse range of projects and styles. Shown on these pages are but four projects all of which use metal cladding and located in the South Island of New Zealand.

Architect: Gary Hopkinson
Hopkinson Team Architecture
141 Tainui Street
Greymouth, New Zealand
Telephone: 03 768-4141
e-mail :
Photography Templeton and
McManaway homes: Paul McCredie.