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, NZRAB Registered Architect, NZIA

Principal, Urban Design

Board Member   

As Principal of Urban Design 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, strong leadership and is sought after for his strategic design thinking.

Thinking by Andre de Graaf:

Christine Spring

Christine Spring.

BE, MSc Eng, MBA

Non-Executive Director

Board Member   

Christine is a Non-Executive Director and chairperson of the Isthmus Group Board. Her background is in Civil Engineering with a particular focus on strategic aviation planning and infrastructure development. Christine is an experienced Director and currently sits on the boards of Auckland International Airport Ltd, Western Sydney Airport Ltd, Unison Networks Ltd and Unison Contracting Services Ltd. She also has a background that includes 15 years working as a consulting engineer. Christine’s commitment to innovation, creativity and strategic thinking provides a good alignment with Isthmus ethos, culture, vision and values.

Danny Tuato’o

Danny Tuato’o.

LL.B, BA (Hons), MA

Non-Executive Director

Board Member   

Danny is a non-Executive Director on the Board of Isthmus.  He is a descendent of Tiakiriri Kukupa and Te Parawhau, a Whangārei based hapū affiliated to both Ngāti Whātua and Ngāpuhi.

Danny is an equity Partner in the Property and Commercial team of a Northland law firm, where he specialises in property, trust law, Māori land law, estate administration, asset protection, subdivisions and easements, leases and property disputes.  Danny has a deep understanding and connection to Te Ao Māori, and a good understanding of risk management – bringing strength and depth in both areas to the Board.  He is an experienced Director, sitting as a Board member of Maritime New Zealand and is also the Chair of the Whangārei Heads Landcare Forum (he lives with his wife and four children on a lifestyle block at Whangārei Heads which he is replanting in natives).

Helen Kerr

Helen Kerr.

BLA (Hons), NZILA (Registered)

Principal Landscape Architect

Board Member   

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.

Nick Kapica

Nick Kapica.

BA Hons, MDes

Principal

Board Member   

Nick originates from London where he studied Visual Communication at Ravensbourne College of Design and Communication. He is passionate about people, design and the urban environment. After working as a designer for The Independent, he moved in 1989 to Berlin, founded SV Associates, and evolved his work from visual communication to experience design with a strongly human-centred focus. In 2009 he moved to Wellington, New Zealand to be Senior Lecturer in Design at Massey University. As a design researcher, he operates within two distinct yet related areas of design practice: visual communication design within spatial environments, and the use of spatial environments to enhance and affect users’ experiences within them. In 2017 he joined Wellington City Council as Design Lead responsible for brand experience and pushing ‘design as a process’ deeper into council structures. Nick has collaborated with Atelier Brückner on Scenographic projects and Athfield Architects on workplace and experiential graphic design projects.

Urbanist, designer, kitesurfer, and educator, Nick is happiest when he can bring different people together to build diverse teams that try to understand complex problems and search for unexpected solutions.

Projects Nick Kapica has worked on:

Ralph Johns

Ralph Johns.

BSc MA, FNZILA Registered

CEO

Board Member   

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 and rides a bicycle whenever he can.

Sarah Bishop

Sarah Bishop.

CMLI (UK), BLA (Hons), BBSc

Principal Landscape Architect

Board Member   

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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