About Black Pine Architects
Duncan Sinclair – Founding Partner | Registered Architect
A design & construction professional, with experience spanning 15 years and five countries.
Like many good antipodeans, I spent a good portion of my youth back-packing round the world. The high regard in which New Zealander’s are held, built by travellers before me with their open, positive and ‘can do’ attitude, stood me in good stead.
In order to support the travel-bug, I discovered the construction site by ‘accident’. At the invitation of a friend, I joined a site in Berlin as a labourer; sweeping and clearing up cold, wet rubbish. It was a revelation; so many (very) interesting characters, from all round the world, working together to rebuild the recently unified city.
Further construction work in Germany, England, the USA and Australia, highlighted the incredible number of ways in which we construct buildings, so that we may live, work & play.
Due to an affection for snow based sports, many of these building sites were located in colder climates, where the outdoor temperature could easily get down to -40 deg C. What was impressive in hindsight, was that despite the weather outside, all these buildings were designed to suit their climate and when complete, were able to provide a comfortable indoor environment for their occupants. Hats, jackets & snow boots outside; Shorts & t-shirt inside. Easy!
At the end of the 90’s it was time to ‘settle down and become sensible and mature’. Time to get an academic education. In 2000 I returned to New Zealand to undertake bachelor degrees in both Architecture and Construction Management. Imagine my surprise, when in a balmy Auckland climate we froze inside, with mould growing on the furniture!
In a country that is renowned for innovation and ‘punching above our weight’ in many fields, how could we be satisfied with such inappropriate buildings?! It did not take much further investigation to discover the massive impact this was having on the health & wellbeing of our people.
Academic studies were followed by five years of working on some of New Zealand’s most interesting construction projects. First with Multiplex, the $200m Sylvia Park shopping mall and the $105m Deloitte Centre, then with Naylor Love, the $30m Whanganui Hospital Redevelopment. Then end of that project was followed by three years with award winning Dalgleish Architects here in Whanganui.
It was during this time that the penny dropped. We may have sorted out the most obvious issue of how to keep our buildings up, on our seismically active islands, but in our minds the islands were a tropical paradise. The science, heath statistics and rampant mould growth would indicate otherwise!
The obvious solution was to add more insulation, but how much was enough? It wasn’t until Kara Rosemeier arrived in New Zealand to teach at Unitec, that the science arrived to accurately conclude at the design stage, when ‘enough was enough’.
Kara taught the Passivhaus way. It wasn’t easy, it’s all building science and although the goals are clear: to be warm & comfortable, with no drafts and without it costing a fortune, no matter what the weather outside, the science behind Passivhaus is substantial.
In 2012 I started Black Pine Architects, to focus on providing design related services to people seeking high performance buildings.
We now use the Passivhaus standard to ensure that no matter what the preferred ‘look’, no matter which direction the best view lies, no matter the scale of the project; as Architects we can ensure that the people will be in the healthiest environment possible.
Now Black Pine is also an [award winning] practice, and we do this for ourselves & our clients, but also for the Kiwis that will follow us.
Thanks for visiting our web page and we look forward to working with you on your next project!
Director – Black Pine Architects
You can find more details of Duncan’s career and achievements at his [Linkedin] page here.
Listen to an interview with Duncan and Matthew Cutler-West from Home Style Green below.