Craft, Detail & Quality
Over the past decade and even currently within New Zealand there have been quality issues within timber construction. My research proposes to address what these quality issues are both functionally, and aesthetically and how we can create a dialogue between craft, detail and quality. In residential architecture in New Zealand, the most common practice is timber stud framing or otherwise known as traditional platform framing. This construction type results in little variety throughout NZ as the vast majority is dominated by NZS:3604. This common platform framing can also create architecture that barely resembles the timber material. This research creates a framework to what will be a possible solution in exposing the details of timber joints, which in turn may prevent quality issues along with creating a crafted timber design. As a starting point for this research, it seemed appropriate to draw on traditional Japanese, European and Pacific construction techniques. These cultures have mastered the art of craft, and we in New Zealand could learn from this and reflect in contemporary practices in NZ. This could in turn create a solution which highlights the quality issues in construction of New Zealand residential architecture. Typically, in New Zealand platform framing construction, timber joint details are concealed. These concealed details are more prone to failure and so by exposing these, it can lead to improving quality of construction. Quality is, however, an elusive concept and this will become clear through an analysis of interviews with numerous builders, project managers, architects and of course the everyday user. These interviews define what they believe is the most common area of defect, and where quality can be improved. This research will therefore look at what system can be designed between the connections of architectural elements to focus on exposed refined details and joints. As these connection details are explored the definition of “craft” will become more defined, where it currently begins as examples of exposed, visible and readable detail. Taking place in a rural New Zealand environment in Raglan Waikato, the portfolio proposes a boutique hotel, with a scheme that demonstrates this newly proposed construction system as an alternative to platform framing. The role of the hotel design is merely a vehicle to apply and test the research. There are many implications that may be a factor in the conclusion of this research proposal, for example CLT timber accessibility and costs. However further outcomes will result in celebration and awareness of detailing which leads to improving quality of New Zealand timber architecture. This research explores turning traditional methods of construction into contemporary architecture using the technologies and material practices of today.