Process - Hatepe

Process - Hatepe

Our processes are collaborative and transformative.

A well-established design process is essential for creating excellent architecture. Our design process adapts to our evolving world. We place value on enhancing cultural identity, advancements in technology, and responding to our environment.  

Our Process

We design in studio environments, where creative work happens through research, experimentation, discussion, and testing before it’s put into action on site.

Our studio has its own culture, developed by uniting like-minded colleagues in a forum of open collaboration, constructive criticism, and trust. Together, we produce architectural proposals with respect for all ideas that benefit from the depth of diversity across our wide-reaching teams.

We value our design process for what it brings to each design project as it improves our design efficiency and confidence.

There is no one correct way to design, and ultimately the moment of design springs from the individual imagination. However, at DGSE, there are common threads to how we design based on an established process we have developed.

Our process is repeated and refined in each developing design stage from vision to built-form as follows:


By researching, experimenting, and analysing, we understand the problems set by the brief; we identify, state, and define the design problem – we observe.


By testing and analysing the site (sketching, questioning, and contextually assessing), we assess the most relevant problems to solve – we frame.


By determining a focus and direction for solving the defined design problem, we experiment and test to refine the new design – we explore.


By repeating and refining this design process, we take full advantage of our critical judgement to create and review multiple solutions – we test.


By working in full scale, we design and deliver enduring architecture; our focus draws across the entire project from concept to construction – we craft.

Cultural Design

He mana tō te hoahoanga ka whakaata i te tangata me tōna tūrangawaewae // There is power in designing architecture that reflects its people and place.

At DGSE, we recognise our role in shaping the designed environment across Aotearoa and the Pacific. At home, our work is an opportunity to celebrate and honour the bi-cultural founding of the nation through Te Tiriti o Waitangi. In understanding the relationship between Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti, we can embrace the multi-cultural identity of Aotearoa in our design process and the tangible outcome.

We are passionate about architecture that tells a story, has wairua // spirit, and is connected to its tūrangawaewae // a place to stand – a home. This understanding is at the heart of our Cultural Design process and is strengthened by building genuine relationships with Tangata Whenua, our clients, and all project partners.










Indigenous Design Rōpū // IDR

The Indigenous Design Rōpū (IDR) is a collective of indigenous architects and designers within our company who champion DGSE’s Cultural Design direction and indigenous advocacy. IDR ensures cultural integrity and agency prevail in the design process, enabled by nurturing genuine relationships with Tangata Whenua and Indigenous Peoples.

Whether our clients are in the government sector, private entities, or Iwi themselves, IDR supports DGSE with grounding projects. This support ensures the connections to Whenua // land, and te Tangata // the people thrive in the architecture.

Digital Design

With a microscope on the future, we deliver projects using the latest technology.

Across our practice, we utilise the latest architectural technology to foster efficient, flexible, and collaborative working environments. We’re adaptable. There’s no rigidity around outdated processes and tools. Instead, we encourage ourselves to learn and advance with technology.

Cloud computing, remote access, and video conferencing solutions have become increasingly important, allowing us to meet with clients no matter where they are. These tools enable seamless collaboration within the wider project team – specifically Autodesk Construction Cloud. This cloud-based software allows us to improve coordination and gain more oversight around pre-construction clash detection, reducing on-site issues and re-work.

Building Information Modelling (BIM) has become a vital factor in the development of construction standards. BIM is a foundational process that streamlines the complexities of large-scale projects, allowing architects, engineers, developers, and builders to collaborate in a 3D environment.

We actively keep up with the extensive amount of BIM software that’s being produced. The tools are only continuing to improve and expand in ways that will change how we work.

Sustainable Design

Sustaining our environment with responsive designs that produce regenerative results.

As architects, we have the opportunity to profoundly impact our environment and inspire change for a better future. Beyond creating sustainable buildings, we work to create communities that are sustainable at a social and environmental level.

Sustainability is a fundamental driver of our designs and process. We consider a spectrum of conditions that each project responds to, including sun, wind, land contour, outlook, and scale. By working closely with our clients, we can understand their needs and develop a sustainable approach that has minimal impact on the environment.

A Carbon Neutral Design approach is increasingly the target for projects, and this will only increase over time. Our team looks to achieve this by using a blend of proven best-practice design standards and innovative technologies. These tools include timber structure, CLT, prefabrication, high-efficiency services, and passive design to reduce impact across a building’s lifespan.

The DGSE team is accredited and experienced in delivering Greenstar and Homestar certified projects. Additionally, our team has experience working with Passivhaus standards, NABERS, and Well Certified projects.

Still, we continue to learn about sustainability through regular education and training practices. And it’s with constant research and development that DGSE strives to work with our clients on delivering green buildings that protect our future.