Inspired design at Architecture van Brandenburg

3D printed model showing the centre of the Marisfrolg Headquarters.

Yesterday, I had the divine pleasure to be invited as part of the Hive Dunedin team to Architecture Van Brandenburg in Dunedin. I had heard just a little about the amazing 3D models and designs they are working on and I certainly was not disappointed when I saw their design space in person. The featured design for a Chinese client was epic in many ways. Inspiration drawn from natural organic forms was the key theme of the design, yet the design was distinctly still architecturally structured. All aspects and spaces were clearly well considered, no detail too small or insignificant. Using natural structures really is a stroke of genius as all things in nature have a purpose. It surprises me that we don’t look at nature more often to gain inspiration. Only when we disturb nature do we tend to have problems. Form and function go together. From the way a leaf channels water away from itself or towards its roots, the runway tracks that a flower displays to its pollinators, there is purpose. And these purposes can be adapted to be used in design. From effectively transporting rain runoff, to leading guests to their destinations.

When you look at the design you see palm leaves, or could it be wings, elliptical leaves. and curved leaf margins.  The design is representative of the bird in flight. There are shell inspired rooves and areas that look like dunes.  The

Artwork on the a larger scal model showing how mosaic tiles will be used.

more I look at it the more I see.  This may also be the nature of a building that is clearly a work of art, that the individual sees different things.


Damien and Ashleigh, talked about the construction itself which is underway and expected to take 3 yrs to complete.  The many buildings are being constructed of steel and concrete formwork.  Hard industrial materials that are in contrast to the natural lines of the buildings.  A contrast that works.  Where would we be without contrasting elements.  Contrast is what draws attention to art or design.  Much like colours that are opposite compliment each other.  Red and green, purple and yellow. orange and blue.  I found one building on the model that seemed out of place.  Looking like a lego block.  I instantly thought this was planned but in

I found one building on the model that seemed out of place, looking like a lego block.  I instantly thought this was planned but in fact it was a happy accident of contrast. It was a building hosting the air-conditioning/ventilation system ( I think i got that right), a building that was not allowed to be altered.


deisgn starts with cardboard models

On a larger scale model we got to see the artwork on the building including the tiles on the roof.  This artwork is putting to use gorgeous seconds glazed tiles.  Tiles that would otherwise be waste in an industry where every tile needs to be perfect.  The tiles are being broken up to make the mosaic artwork.


Thanks to Damien and Ashleigh for showing the team and students around.  I know I found the experience inspiring, and given the questions from our 10-12 group, I could tell they enjoyed it too.

How much will it cost?

With a whole range of web design options available today, it might be hard to wade through the mine field of what to choose and how much it will cost you.

Here is your simple guide to the options on price scale and what you will generally get and achieve from your budget.  It’s not a hard and fast rule of what businesses will charge you, but certainly will get you to think about what you want to achieve for your business online.


Free Web sites

It’s no secret, there are many options to get you a web site for free.  But what does this mean for your business.

  • Ads on your web site: Many free site providers will put their branding on your web site.
  • They offer limited choices in customising the web site and you can’t employ others to do it for you, as there isn’t access
  • You don’t have control over your hosting, where your server is located or the speed of your hosting
  • There are often hidden fees for commerce solutions or using your own domain name.  Check these details before committing.
  • Can be good for someone starting out who just needs something quick on the web, but beware of the fact that some visitors to your website may consider your site unprofessional which affects their impression of you.


Low cost web sites – $300-$1000

Friends or web designers starting out can be well meaning, and offer you a site at a low cost.

  • What you need to balance up is their experience and whether they can achieve the result you want.  Is it worth trying an amateur web designer at the risk that it might not work?  It may well be worth it, but it is a gamble.
  • Will they know enough to set you up for successful search marketing?
  • Will they know the right technologies to use to achieve your desired outcomes?
  • Will they be setting it up so you can edit the site?
  • Always check out your designers portfolio.


Mid range pricing $1500 – $5000

Okay, so these are your professionally created bottom of the range (pricing wise) web sites. At the $1500 mark you will get a basic web site but should look professional.  Again, check your prospective designers portfolio so you’ll have a good idea of what you will get.

  • At this price range you will likely get an out of the box content management system like WordPress or Joomla.
  • At the bottom end of this pricing you will get an existing theme and basic customisation.  e.g. colours changed and logo added
  • The price range here generally depends on what theme you like, how much you want it customised and what bells and whistles you want added on.
  • You should get a web designer who has more than a basic knowledge of web languages.
  • Your web site will be tested and integrated with search marketing, social media marketing, and it should be properly secured.


$5000 plus

Generally at over $5000 you would expect to get a custom designed website.   Many designers use Photoshop to create a one off design and will likely incorporate some kind of content management system.  We have done this ourselves with our own content management system – SimpleCMS.

  • You’ll have something that has been specifically designed for your businesses needs.
  • The code will be as clean as it possibly can be which can only help with your search results.
  • While WordPress themes are ultimately customisable, a custom design means you won’t have to settle with good enough or close enough for the features and look of your site
  • Also, WordPress themes can occasionally have their code quirks.  No biggie, usually but if you don’t want to have to go back tot he designer and get some table padding sorted out, you might want to choose a custom design.


Extras $$$

Of course if you require a custom developed shopping cart system, member management, secure communication system, or some innovative idea you have dreamed up then this will add on to your price.

Special Note:  Check with your web designer what they mean by ‘Custom Designed’.  Some designers consider a customised WordPress theme, to be  custom design.  That is fine, but it’s important to compare apples with apples.