Isthmus

We nurture a strong studio culture. Our inter-disciplinary team of designers share a common purpose. We work together as ‘one studio’, putting forward best-for-project teams with the right blend of skills and knowledge. In this way every client gains access to the depth and breadth our collective experience and intelligence.

Andre de Graaf

Andre de Graaf.

BArch

Principal

Auckland Studio    Board Members   

Andre is the Director of Architecture. He has shaped a high quality architectural team that is fully integrated with the firm’s wider design offering.  Andre brings a rigorous and inquiring approach to design and has considerable experience in masterplans for intensive residential and mixed-use developments that is founded in over two decades of designing buildings across a wide spectrum.  Andre brings skills that champion innovation and is sought after for his strategic design thinking.  He is currently a member of Auckland Council’s Urban Design Panel.

David Irwin

David Irwin.

BHort. PG Dip. LA

Founding Principal

Auckland Studio    Board Members   

David is a founding Director of Isthmus and Fellow of the NZILA with over thirty years’ experience in the field of landscape architecture and urban design. His experience encompasses a wide range of projects throughout New Zealand including large scale urban developments, town centres, coastal edges and residential framework planning. David specialises in providing design leadership in complex project teams. His work has been awarded numerous times by the NZILA for its quality, innovation and contribution to place making for communities in New Zealand.

Dion Mortensen

Dion Mortensen.

Independant Director

Board Members   

Dion is a full time Director and Investor he is passionate about building high performing, purpose driven companies in New Zealand. He has served the Isthmus Board since 2010 and is a chartered member of the Institute of Directors.  Over the last 15 years he has held several CEO roles and has worked with 23 different Boards.

He is particularly interested in the profession of design and what design thinking can contribute towards solving some of the important questions facing society today.

Haylea Muir

Haylea Muir.

BLA (Hons), NZILA (Registered)

Associate Landscape Architect

Auckland Studio    Board Members   

Alongside her extensive experience in large scale residential masterplanning projects and writing Architecture and Landscape design guidelines, Haylea has had a primary role in several award winning play spaces. She has a special interest in how people live, play and connect in their neighbourhoods.
Haylea is also an amateur photographer who’s travel destinations are usually chosen on the basis of indulging this hobby.

Helen Kerr

Helen Kerr.

BLA (Hons), NZILA (Registered)

Principal Landscape Architect

Auckland Studio    Board Members   

Helen has grown deep roots with Isthmus since 1999, and is invested in our kaupapa of land, people and culture. She takes a collaborative approach to her work, and finds that exploring and creating with communities is the real deal- knowing when to listen, when to observe and when to lead.

Play is her passion, finding the story of place is her skill, and wellbeing is her mission. She believes we should invest in the future of children and whanau by supporting community networks, sparking positive change and creating healthy habitats. Through leadership of award winning destination projects, Helen always strives to weave together the narrative of land, people and culture through the design process – whether it be Botanic Gardens, greenways, Universities, learning landscapes, parks or playspaces.

Ralph Johns

Ralph Johns.

BSc MA, NZILA Registered

CEO

Auckland Studio    Wellington Studio    Board Members   

Ralph takes care of the business; he leads the strategic direction of isthmus.

As a landscape architect Ralph has won a number of industry awards. He was the driving force behind the Isthmus book, Coast Country Neighbourhood City. As Isthmus’ design-led CEO since 2014, Ralph has led the practice through a period of rapid growth. Ralph ensures that Isthmus stays grounded, committed to purpose, and keeps an eye firmly fixed on the horizon.

Ralph lives in Wellington, works in Auckland and rides a bicycle whenever he can.

Projects Ralph Johns has worked on:

Sarah Bishop

Sarah Bishop.

CMLI (UK), BLA (Hons), BBSc

Principal Landscape Architect

Auckland Studio    Board Members   

Sarah is a Landscape Architect and Urban Designer with over ten years’ professional experience gained in the UK and here at home in New Zealand. She has expertise in a broad range of projects types from strategy and masterplanning, to the design conceptualisation and development, through to preparation of construction documentation. Sarah can move from large scale complex masterplans to intricate spaces that knit into urban fabric, to natural elemental environments – bringing the same level of design sensitivity, clarity and refinement.

Recent projects have included masterplanning for urban centres and coastal environments; the design and delivery of public parks, plazas and streetscapes. She works collaboratively with public and private sector clients, stakeholder and community groups to deliver high quality outcomes loved by their communities.

Sarah’s interest in urban renewal projects, particularly where the land meets the sea is informed by a fascination with maps and their language of how our towns and cities evolve.

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