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.

Emma Parker

Emma Parker.

B.Bus, PGDip HRM

People and Culture

Studio Management Team   

“Any Human Heart” could be Emma Parker, People & Culture person’s biopic title. It isn’t. It turns out to be a book she’s just finished reading.  

“Messy” By Tim Harford is what she has just started. Sensibly. Because anyone who works with creative-kind knows like a glove-box warmed chocolate bar, things will get interesting. 

“I’ve always found other people fascinating. What drives them? What they love doing? What do they find most challenging? What makes someone a good leader? How do they become great?  And how we can build on strengths to continue to grow.  

“It’s exciting for me to work in a design space because that’s what I find interesting in my personal life. I love going to art galleries, watching movies, reading novels and talking to creative thinkers. Here I get to combine my two passions of people and design. It’s the cherry on the top. 

“It feels good to be in an organisation where people are at the forefront—during challenging times, this is even more important.” 

Marketing and communications are where Emma began her working life before spending a few years in a recruitment (agency and then in-house), while completing a Post Grad Diploma in HR. “Once I moved into my first generalist People and Culture role, I knew this was the path for me. It’s just the feeling that you get when you move into a role that’s fulfilling for you personally as well as professionally. When you find your vocation, it feels right. It’s equal parts challenging and rewarding. It’s authentic.” 

Lisa Rimmer

Lisa Rimmer.

BHortSc (Hons) MLA (Hons)

Principal Landscape architect

Studio Management Team   

Alongside her landscape architectural practice, Lisa’s background in horticultural science and education has informed her specialist expertise in strategic planning projects that integrate environmental planning and RMA processes with detailed design.  She has worked on a wide range of projects including large scale infrastructure, public and civic facilities and commercial developments. Lisa has strengths in project management, leadership and team communication, as well as contract documentation and planting design, especially for complex urban sites.

Paulo Costa

Paulo Costa.

BArch (Hons), ANZIA, MAA (Denmark)

Principal Architect

Studio Management Team   

Paulo, originally from Mozambique, studied Architecture in Wellington and moved back to Auckland a couple of years ago following a 12 year stint in the UK. His experience in the UK focused on urban regeneration and adaptive re-use, working on several mixed use residential developments, with forays into the arts and education sectors along the way.

Paulo combines a passion for designing space with a strong interest in ‘place making’ and a rigorous appreciation of context and takes a collaborative approach to developing ideas from concept level to the end detail.

Outside of the office, when not drawing, you’ll find him cycling or exploring Auckland with family or binging on all things Scandinavian: be it film, furniture or design.

Projects Paulo Costa has worked on:

Penny McIntyre

Penny McIntyre.

NCB, NDA

Chief Operating Officer

Studio Management Team   

As a qualified Accountant, Penny is a valued and trusted member of the senior management team, who brings a wealth of experience and knowledge as well as a cracking good sense of humour!  Penny works collaboratively across Isthmus providing clear financial direction, analysis, process improvements as well as ad hoc projects helping to ensure that our business objectives are met.
Outside of the busy working week, Penny spends quality time with friends and family sharing great yarns whilst fishing, walking, pilates and a good glass of chardonnay!

Ralph Johns

Ralph Johns.

BSc MA, FNZILA Registered

CEO

Board Member    Studio Management Team   

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.

Scott McKerrow

Scott McKerrow.

BAS, MArch Prof. (Hons) NZDAT, NZIA Registered Architect

Associate Architect

Studio Management Team   

‘I’d like not to be an architect,’ says Scott. ‘Rather a design thinker who applies that process to any problem. It is about moving away from discipline labels such as an architect or landscape architect to; here is a design problem: how do we solve this? So that I can apply my skill set to any perplexity.’ For example Scott is currently part of an urban design team that is concepting a bridge. Although Scott iterates, ‘It is not about a project more the process.’

Fittingly people have described Scott as a ‘generalist’ in the five or six primary phases of architecture. Likewise project types from residential, petrol stations, commercial interior fit-outs to landscapes and transportation projects. ‘I specialise in people at the front and back end of a project — engage with the people using the space.’

Scott explains he likes people to feel comfortable so they give their opinions, ‘It’s inconsequential whose idea is better. Just as long as we can generate a discussion with the project caretaker and arrive at a universal solution.’

The overarching theme continues in Scott’s own life. He works in Wellington but lives in Christchurch. He hails from Tauranga, while his whanau are from the East Coast, ‘I’m all over the place,’ he says. ‘I’d like my heritage to influence my work more but I understand we’re still in a society which is predominantly European. Hearing waiata inside an office place as you do at Isthmus is unique. Mind you it is not ‘my’ culture. But everybodys’ culture. We should be sharing stories about all cultures and celebrating these.’

Scott is an Associate Architect, BAS, MArch Prof. (Hons) NZDAT, NZIA Registered Architect.

Sean Burke

Sean Burke.

BSc, BLA (Hons), NZILA (Registered)

Principal Landscape Architect

Studio Management Team   

Sean has two decades of experience in a range of landscape architectural work predominantly associated with infrastructure and the coastal edge.

Sean combines strategic thinking with core design skills underpinned by an ability to understand the natural and people context. A champion of the holistic view and noted keeper of overall project design visions, Sean offers a collaborative approach integrating the needs of many across a variety of procurement models.

Sean has a passion for well thought through design that advances the conversation of place, identity and human experience, yet goes beyond the visual to engage with the dynamics of the natural world in a meaningful proactive manner.

Travis Wooller

Travis Wooller.

BLA, NZILA (Registered)

Principal Landscape Architect

Studio Management Team   

Ever the perfectionist, Travis thrives on detail.  Over 11 years of construction administration and overseeing landscape builds in the urban environment have provided for a solid design ethos that enables him to convert clients aspirations, concepts and desired outcomes into a solid reality.

Travis firmly believes that listening is designing too, and meaningful input by the end user and client is key to a projects success. With his extensive experience designing, managing and delivering streets, plazas, large scale parks, sport infrastructure, and skate parks, Travis has proven to be a safe pair of hands to carry complex and technical projects through to the last detail.