Peter Diprose Architect will seek to create a design to match your personal requirements and tastes rather than impose a predetermined practice style on the outcome. Our aim is to find a quality design solution responsive to your brief which is imbued with a sense of human scale and proportion; together with the fine qualities of space, form, light, and materiality.

While we have extensive experience in designing quality residential buildings and landscapes in urban and rural settings, we also undertake design of retail, hospitality, education and commercial and civic architecture and developments, and have expertise in creating ecologically sensitive architecture and sustainability consultancy. All staff are computer literate and utilise 3-D computer models to test design ideas and create presentations and construction documents.

pda is located in Ambrose Cottage the oldest restored building in Whitford.

Dr Peter Diprose


Graduating as most distinguished student in the Faculty of Architecture, Property and Planning, Peter Diprose went on to gain a University Scholarship to study for his PhD in Architecture.

Upon graduating he was awarded the University of Auckland PhD Prize for best PhD in the Faculty of Architecture, Property, Planning and Fine Arts.

Since graduating Peter balanced his time between architectural practice in Whitford and teaching/research. Peter has taught architectural design at the University of Auckland and lectured in landscape architecture at Unitec.

Peter became a Registered Architect in 1997, and since then he has devoted his energy and enthusiasm to architectural practice producing finely crafted buildings, and more specifically to the integrated and sympathetic design of landscapes and architecture. Peter is committed to good design and a good working partnership with client and contractor.

Peter is past chairperson of the New Zealand Institute of Architects Environment Task Group and was involved in writing and reviewing the NZIA Environmental Policy


Robert holds double Masters degrees in Architecture, Urban Design and Landscape Architecture from University of Berkeley California, and is a Registered Architect (AIA) and Landscape Architect (ANZILA). He has been a guest “Professeur Associe” in Paris, and was formerly a Teaching Fellow at the University of Auckland. Robert has worked with Peter for 10 years, collaborating on integrated designs for architecture and landscape, and a number of internationally published articles related to design, film, visualisation and vicarious landscapes. He continues to develop sustainable alternatives in eco-living community projects. Robert is involved with publications, design and peer review.

Robert (Left) and Peter (Right)

Peter Diprose : Qualifications Prizes and Awards

Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy)
Bachelor of Architecture,
Master of Architecture on design processes
PhD on building form and the architectural implications of sustainability

Academic Awards
The New Zealand Fibre Glass Travel Scholarship (1990) for “most progress in Postgraduate research in Architecture”
The Fowlds Prize (1992) as “most distinguished student in the Faculty of Architecture Property and Planning”
University of Auckland PhD Prize (2000) awarded for best PhD in the Faculty of Architecture, Property, Planning and Fine Arts

Design Competitions Prizes and Awards
Winner and First Prize: Carter Holt Harvey National Environmental Design Award. (1994)
Winner and First Prize: The International Student Competition for Passive Low Energy Architecture (PLEA 1992)
Runner up: Wellington City Council Ecohouse Design Competition (1994).
Merit Award: Levene Urban Gaze Design Competition (1994)
Runner up: Wiri Design Competition “Beyond the Suburban House”, (in conjunction with Antonious Peters (1994/5)
Winner of the Waitakere Ecohome (Invited) Competition as Green Design with Paul Heather (1996)
Exhibited in the La Biennale di Venezia : City for the Third Millenium (Design with Robert Hotten ) 2000

Exhibited in the 5th International Festival for Architecture in Video : The Future and the City.” Image,University of Florence,Italy. November 30 – December 3, 2000

Green Star NZ Accredited Professional Training L1 and L2

Ecologically responsible design, glass tower, Modernism, mythology, solar architecture


Recent architectural projects by leading designers have incorporated innovative measures to improve energy efficiency in response to the concerns of ecologically responsible design. A remarkable feature of these buildings is the form that they have taken – that of the glass tower. This paper explores the use of glass-tower as a metaphor of ecologically responsible design, and enquires as to whether recent ‘vanguard’ office buildings are good models of green architecture? It is concluded that uncritical use of the ‘green’-glass-tower design concept, without sufficient consideration of the complex environmental problems associated with glass-tower, make an alliance between ecologically responsible design and the glass-tower a less than ideal proposition, especially over the long term.


Responding to the concerns of ecologically responsible design, Foster, Kaplicky and Rogers, among others, have incorporated innovative cladding techniques to improve energy efficiency, natural ventilation and natural lighting in their recent architectural projects . These projects have been acclaimed by the architectural press as the leading edge of a new ‘green’ architecture (Chevin, 1994; Foster, 1993; Russell, 1992a; Welsh, 1993) . Most remarkable however, is that these ‘green’ projects are introduced in the guise of the glass-tower, a form often interpreted as an enemy of ecological sustainability (Vale, 1991, p170; Szokolay 1989).

Although there has been a long history of tower building, and of glass use in architecture, the notion of the glass-tower was born in the industrial age, a time when it became technically feasible to produce large panes of glass, mechanised vertical transportation, and tall steel framed structures – which took the place of load bearing walls (Condit, 1962; Heinle, 1989)

Peter Diprose and Graeme Robertson

Peter Diprose, BA MArch, PhD Candidate.
Graeme Robertson, Senior Lecturer, Post-graduate Supervisor.
Sustainable Architecture Group, Department of Architecture, University of Auckland, PB 92019, Auckland, New Zealand.

new environmental paradigm, sustainability, architectural design, policy, responsibility, education.

This paper is divided into four parts. The first section of this paper describes an ‘ideal’ emergent worldview – the new environmental paradigm. The acceptance of this new environmental paradigm – sustainability – leads to an expansion of the moral community – of individuals beyond their present intragenerational responsibilities to other members of the community, to future generations of humans, and to nonhuman nature. The second and third sections detail how this expanded position of environmental responsibility has been reflected by recent policy of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, and enquires as to its short-comings thus far. Has policy been translated into action? Suggestions on how policy may more effectively be converted into action are provided in the final section.

An emergent ecological paradigm has been acknowledged by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) with their recent adoption of environmental principles, explicitly widening the responsibilities of the architect beyond the present client, user and the community, to future generations of humans, and nonhuman nature. This has been demonstrated through a range of initiatives from the creation and acceptance of NZIA Environmental Policy and associated Position Papers, to the incorporation of sustainability into the criteria for future national architectural awards. The provision of environmental standards embodied within policy statements however, may not in itself prove satisfactory for ensuring ecological design-in-action. A combined approach of incentives, legislation and education is required to guide and enable the profession towards responsible action. Above all, architectural (re)education must seek to (re)equip the practitioner with the means to design sustainable environments.

Read More…

SKYTOWER: where reality meets myth

Originally Published 1996 © Peter Diprose, and Leonie Johnson

Text by Peter Diprose, Photographs by Leonie Johnson

Dorothy gazed enchantedly at the gleaming city of Ours. Beyond the inner suburbs she could see the Great Hara’s Tower . She exclaimed with excitement “surely a good wizard lives there. We must set out to find a heart at the centre of that city.” So Dorothy and her merry band set forth on that golden road Dominion. When they came upon a gate house, they found the Queen of Hearts playing Wheel of Fortune with Alice, a sultry croupier from Vegas. Alice welcomed Dorothy to the royal court, requesting that she put on tinted glasses, because the Good Witch of Waitakere insisted that all visitors to Emeraldland must believe that everything is green. So Dorothy, who was really just an ordinary little girl from Kansas (with shiny Oroton shoes and green Oakley glasses), checked into the Great Hara’s Hotel hoping to fulfil her wildest desire.

Towers are what fairytales and fantasies are made of. FromBabelto Camelot, of all elements in the built environment, the tower is perhaps most symbolically powerful, often identified as central to community inspiration. ‘Casino’ is also laden with meaning . Symbolically complementary to ‘tower’, casino denotes opportunity, risk, hope and desire, of fortunes being won and lost. There you can be a star at least for a little while as Knofler says, “money for nothing and the chic’s for free”.

In Aucklandit was a stroke of genius to combine the elements of tower and casino. By bringing them together, the aura and mystic of both are raised. The construction and marketing of tower casino is engulfed in unconscious and implicit references to 5000 years of mythology.

One doesn’t have to look very hard to find examples of myth-making. For example a parallel can be drawn between the tale of Oz and the television promotion of Skycity. Just as the fairytale suspends reality, a trip to the casino is advertised as a world of fantasy beyond the daily grind. The Wizard of Oz, written by L. Frank Baum at the turn of the century, is the wonderful tale of an orphaned little girl who lived in a countryside parched from drought. Dorothy’s Aunt Em’s lips, cheeks and eyes had turned grey from the heat of the sun. Em was thin and gaunt, and never smiled, and Uncle Henry never laughed. He worked hard from morning till night and did not know what joy was. A cyclone came and whisked Dorothy away to the land of Oz. There, she travelled to meet the Wizard who lived in the Emerald city – ‘a mass of towers and steeples behind green walls, and high up above everything [were] the spires and dome of thePalaceofOz’. After a grand and successful journey our little hero returned home to a freshly built farmhouse, and to the embrace and kisses of her loving Aunt. On the television advertisement for Skycity Casino a man toils away in tones of grey dotting the ‘i’s’ and crossing the ‘t’s’, until he visits the casino tower which puts the colour back into his cheeks. ‘Work is dull. Play is fun!’ Similarly, Dorothy’s life was dull until she visited the city of towers, and when she returned to her normal life everything was better.

Mixed Metaphors: A brief history of tower symbolism.

An examination of tower mythology beyond that of the Wizard of Oz throws up a range of interesting tales and associations.

The Egyptian Obelisk of Luxor, constructed at the time of Moses, was erected as a monument to sun worship. However, its hieroglyphic decorations which were added afterwards are commemorative of battle victories. Three thousand years later Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel designed a 300m tower for the world exposition of 1889 in the belief it symbolised the century of industry and science. Eiffel’s masterwork was at first so disliked that the writer Victor Hugo ascended it every day, in the knowledge that the tower was the only location in Paris that he did not have to look at the ‘repulsive column made of screwed-together tin’. Like the Obelisk of Luxor, theEiffelToweris commemorative of an ideological ‘battle’, celebrating the French Revolution of 1789 which heralded the age of liberty, equality and fraternity.

New Zealandis not without its own indigenous celebratory tower of sorts – the hakari stage. These were constructed up to 30 metres high, and upon which food and gifts were placed during celebrations.

Spain: Barcelona Pavilion


(Originally Published in Architecture New Zealand 1995)

Travelling on his Carter Holt Harvey Environmental Award of 1994, Peter Diprose recalls his encounter with the Barcelona Pavilion.

In late April of 1995 I travelled to England and rendezvoused with Steve Downey, a London based graduate who had agreed to accompany me on an architectural tour of Spain. Several days later we flew to Malaga choosing to spend the first ten days of our sojourn travelling around the white villages and towns of the south. During that time, we covered more than two and a half thousand kilometres, enjoying the sights, sounds and aromas of Andalucia in springtime – bullfighting in Ronda, a fiesta in Seville, the gardens and window boxes of Cordoba and Granada’s renown Alhambra. After embracing Hemmingway’s ‘Espanya’ we drove one thousand kilometres north to Barcelona, the capital of Catalunya, arriving there on May Day. At the time both Steve and myself were recovering from burns acquired two days earlier, the consequence of an impromptu climb to the top of the 3481m foot tip of Pico de Veleta, from where we glimpsed Africa across the Mediterranean sea.

Read More…

pda’s theoretical interests include:

Design for sustainability; the zone of mediation between interior and exterior, veranda and the outdoor room;  computer visualisation and landscape including panoramic representation and virtuality and film art and animated imagery.

Peter’s work has been exhibited in Venice (2000) and Florence (2001), and he continues to publish theoretical papers internationally, most recently at the Computers in Art and Design Education conference on the Paradox of Stillness, in Perth 2007.

The Future and the City

5th International Festival for Architecture in Video
international architectural conference > November 30 – December 3, 2000

The city of the future is identified here as an infinite accumulation of suburban sprawl, low-density development all the way to the coast. The remote seashore being the last nostalgic haven from development punctuated by gas-stations. The design brief called for the serial redevelopment of petrol station forecourts into distinctive works of land-art and/or urban landscape (for re-creation), to be experienced from a moving vehicle. Students undertook a road trip to shoot video footage appropriate for each of their landscape designs. An element of futurism was added to the brief, requiring students to address the potential demise or re-invention of the city and the petrol station in the year 2030.

From Dreamtime to QuickTime

The resurgence of the 360- degree panoramic view as a form of computer-synthesised architectural representation.
Robert D. Hotten, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Peter R. Diprose, Unitec, Auckland, New Zealand
The conference theme ‘eternity, infinity and virtuality’ may be considered in terms of time, space and the other.  One form of representation which captures all three of these fundamental dimensions, at a glance, is the 360-degree panorama, a medium which is currently making a comeback in the architectural studio.  This paper explores the use of the computer synthesised panorama as a means of representing architectural space and landscape experience, and as a method of informing the design.  The panoramic mural is differentiated from two subcategories of QTVR panorama, the subjective and the objective. The use of panoramic views enable landscape architecture students to design using a 2D image format which can be rendered to provide a 3D spatial effect.  In summary, the paper contends that the process of design, in architectural practice and in architectural education, is significantly enhanced by the dynamic representations of time and/or space offered by the computer synthesised panorama.
1. The panoramic view: Eternity, infinity and virtuality.
The conference theme ‘eternity, infinity and virtuality’ may be considered in terms of time, space and the other.  One form of representation which captures all three of these fundamental dimensions, at a glance, is the 360-degree panorama which reached its height of popularity more than a century ago.  As Comment states – The panorama was one of the most popular and most typical phenomena of the nineteenth century, of which it is in a way the signature. A motley crowd in search of wanton, enigmatic and rarely denied pleasure would rush to see these spectacular paintings… A fundamental shift had taken place in the logic and focus of representation.(Comment, 1999)
In general, the panoramic photograph or painting technique records and simulates comprehensive views of a portion of the earth’s surface, landscape, or built environment (Oettermann, 1997).  Between 1787 and 1900 panorama painting was a medium through which ordinary people could access and experience the other. Namely, for those living in the large established European cities, this ‘other’ was life beyond typical mundane existence, a reality experienced by others elsewhere at some other time.  Through the panorama newly discovered exotic colonial landscapes and architecture were able to be ‘captured’ by teams of painters for homeland audiences. For example, “Panorama of the Congo” by Alfred Bastien and Paul Mathieu (painted in 1913, measuring 15m x 115m) was created for the National Exhibition of Ghent. Being sponsored by the government of the time, this panorama was as much a work of colonial propaganda as it was a work of art, with expressed intention to give young Belgians “a taste for the colonies” (Comment, 1999).

The resurgence of the 360-degree panoramic view as a form of computer-synthesised architectural representation.
File Type  –  Adobe Acrobat Document
File Size  – 1399KB

read more …

From Paris Texas to the Road Warrior. Computer aided landscapes and the road movie – the place of film and television media within architectural education.What is Good Design?

Budget aside, what sets a stunning building apart from a mediocre one?

Good Design! Any human artifact no matter how small or seemingly insignificant can be well designed – from the curvaceous perfume bottle to the handsome Swiss Army knife. Whatever the budget, stunning buildings typically have the following designed attributes: They relate well to their context whether natural or urban; use forms and architectural language – typologies and patterns – that are appropriate and culturally significant (for example spires, minarets, gables, verandas etc); they are designed in terms of a theory of ordering principles – for example: axes, symmetry, hierarchies, transformations, repetition, rhythm, and proportions whether classical or abstract; they are functional and inherently logical in plan; the relationship between interior and exterior volumes and the degree of enclosure is well considered, with openings being placed to cast sensuous light on surface textures and to define space; ecological sustainability issues should also be tackled; finally they are vibrant places for living catering for all human rituals,

100 years ago local hand-crafted vernacular buildings had many of these attributes, a currency which is sadly lacking in the new subdivisions of ‘non-designed’ buildings. Today, Registered Architects are the only profession with the academic training and design skills necessary to create stunning buildings. Given the substantial investment and longevity of buildings you should hire an architect and have a chance for Good Design.

(This was published in the Our Homes Today supplement in the Howick and Pakuranga Times, 16 August 2005)