Naturally Designed by Nigel [Reblog]

rsz_plantation_heights_01It was a real pleasure for me on Wed 6 Dec to accompany Nigel on a trip to Balclutha to visit the new subdivision named Plantation Heights with which he’s involved through his company Growplan. Nigel is a Landscape Architect, based in Dunedin and actively working through Otago and Southland, and further afield by arrangement.

— Text and Photos by Liz Cowburn  |  Blog:  Exploring Colour

rsz_plantation_heights_02The subdivision name and its street names were determined early on through a public competition and one of Nigel’s roles was to design the name panels for the entrances and streets. The above photos show the first entrance panel that you see when driving up to the subdivision from Balclutha.

The following two photos show the panel that’s at the second entrance.



It was amazing for us to view the panels for the very first time. I had seen the drawings as Nigel developed the designs but nothing prepares you for the impact of seeing them right in front of you, and seeing the sky and landscape through the cut-outs!

These are plasma-cut Corten Steel panels constructed by Duffy Engineering of Balclutha.

The Street Panels

In addition to the two entrance panels there is a panel for each of the three streets.

Cypress Lane


Monterey Drive


Oregon Place



Nigel designed all the conifer icons and the lettering for the names. He chose the font and customised it for this use, paying special attention to the kerning. The big challenge with cut-out design is to ensure that everything is joined-up and that no ‘islands’ are inadvertently created. He consulted with the engineers at Duffy to ensure that the final designs would work when it came to the cutting stage.

The panels have only just been installed – they were put up on Monday 4 December.

Once we’d driven into the subdivision I was quite taken with this centrally located asymmetric pump station. Looking at the photo again this evening I imagined how good it could look with the addition of a green roof 🙂


Landscape Architect:  Nigel Cowburn, Growplan     Blog   |   Website

Panel Construction:   Duffy Engineering     Website

Text and Photos by Liz Cowburn, Exploring Colour (2017)

13 thoughts on “Naturally Designed by Nigel [Reblog]

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  1. This time, the fires are hundreds of miles to the south. Brent, my colleague, had to work in the area of the Bel Air fire though. (It might be the Skirball Fire, but I don’t know.)
    Douglas fir is the most common wood here for framing. Redwood was harvested extensively after the great Earthquake and Fire of 1906, but only because it was closer and readily available. Fir is now the standard. That is funny about the Monterey cypress. I would not have guessed that it is good for much. I happen to live near their natural range, and grew up with them. When I go to Santa Cruz in the morning I can see across the Bay to Monterey. I cut and split them as firewood when I was a kid, but only because they were there and needed to be cut down. They were not a favorite. The funny thing is that we had so much blue gum too (Eucalyptus globulus). It is quite an invasive weed here. It is supposed to be bad firewood because it gets the chimneys so dirty. We burned it too, just because there was so much of it. I just had to clean the chimney more often.

  2. What is the icon on the sign for Oregon Place? Why is it named Oregon Place? Why is the other Monterey Place? I worked as a site in Monterey that was named after some place in Spain. Maybe we got the signs mixed up.

    1. The subdivision is named Plantation as it was a commercial forest in it’s prior incarnation, growing the three trees that the streets are named for. Icon is an abstracted pair of Douglas fir cones, in NZ called Oregon pine.

      1. Ha! What a cool name for Douglas fir! Oregon pine sound so chic. It is a ‘pair’ of cones, which is why there is a cleft at the bottom between the two cones.
        Were Monterey cypress trees grown as well? What are cypress trees good for?
        I just wrote an article that will be out in a few days about how new development is often named after what was there earlier. The example I used was the Pruneyard in Campbell.

        1. Yes, name it after what was destroyed, although in this case it was all exotics so no real loss although Monterey cypress do have a nice form here, usually used for bar benchtops and wonderful firewood. Oregon pine for house framing mainly, although my woodbench is DF.
          Just found a good, tongue-in-cheek DF discussion – ( . I look fwd to your development names post and hope you’re out of the fire areas.

        2. In NZ, Pinus radiata is referred to as Monterey Pine sometimes, but we don’t normally use the term ‘Monterey cypress’. The term ‘cypress’ is sometimes used for macrocarpa. Just want to clarify that my comment below refers to macrocarpa and not to Monterey Pine. Monterey Pine is a low-quality, non-durable timber that much of NZ’s economy is based on!

          1. Yes, Monterey pine is Pinus radiata; and Monterey cypress is Cupressus macrocarpa. They are both native and both live here together. The cyrpess has a broader range. The pine lives only in three isolated colonies within that range. (there are also two small colonies of pine on two small islands off the coast of Baja California, but not much is known about them.)

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