canterbury’s own lifestyle magazine / a great local read

Good design needs to be a response to the environment,’ says Vincent Sanders, Director of Bespoke Architecture. Driven by a desire to enhance the built environment, whether the setting is urban or rural, the team at this boutique firm designs homes that occupy the intersection between environmental context and the hopes and dreams of clients.

Led by Vincent and Design Director Kirby Fenton, the team at Bespoke Architecture is thorough in developing an understanding of each site, its assets and its challenges – from prevailing winds to unique views – and relentless in discovering what their clients are seeking in their new home.

Creating a solid relationship with clients ensures Vincent and Kirby are unafraid to challenge their views in the pursuit of a home that truly fits them, as they are passionate advocates of the idea that the clients’ needs are paramount – it’s not about winning awards, but about designing homes that provide the best solutions and value for the people that will live in them.

For Vincent, who grew up on his family’s farm in Central Otago, designing rural homes is a particular pleasure. ‘You get to create a narrative by driving there,’ he says, ‘seeing what the clients see each day, like a farm barn or historic building, and you get cues for the design.’ But designing for the rural environment also comes with unique challenges – a flat piece of land surrounded by views can mean the possibilities are so broad that it’s difficult to settle on the best approach. The key, according to Kirby, is in the relationship built with the clients and how this enables an intimate understanding of the design brief.

For this family home in Loburn, the clients wanted an elegant, single-level build, combining a grand country feel with modern styling and a limited palette of natural materials. Living areas needed to be separated from the bedrooms so that the children could sleep while their parents entertained, and the ability to live an indoor-outdoor lifestyle was essential.

Understanding the clients’ intentions meant Vincent and Kirby got to grips with the concept early and the design process was a quick one. Recognising the expense that comes with building in stone, Vincent and Kirby suggested keeping the use of Heritage Stone (Schist) to the primary features, creating a sturdy, grounded mass without a massive price tag.

The front of the home basks in sunshine, with a series of sheltered outdoor living spaces to catch the sun at different times of the day. A portico at the entrance references grand country homes, while also providing a practical solution for everyday living. The site is spoilt for choice with views in every direction and the master ensuite was able to capitalise on this – the corner spa bath enjoys a wraparound outlook and a mirror above the vanity reflecting the window opposite extends the feeling of being surrounded by the landscape.

For the team at Bespoke Architecture, designing for the rural environment is uniquely rewarding because the people that live there often have a longstanding relationship with the land. Whether it is a view they have grown up with or a site that their grandfather held a dream of building on, there are elements that hold great value to them. Capturing this very personal connection requires a thorough understanding of the clients, translated into design that is at home in its environment.

For more information on Bespoke Architecture, visit

WORDS: Michelle Berridge