Derek Wong Nam

Derek Wong Nam


Derek’s architectural work is seen across many parts of Marlborough. He has played an instrumental role in a large number of commercial, residential, industrial and “public space” projects, which has enabled him to push boundaries through his design aesthetic.

After graduation, Derek’s architectural career began in Lower Hutt in 1985, focusing on residential, commercial and educational projects. He joined Blenheim’s Abacus Design in 1993, later becoming a partner in the firm alongside Structural Engineer Richard Evans. In 2007, as a result of their collaborations on various projects with Paul Williams (planner) and the late John Smart (engineer), the innovative interdisciplinary Smart Alliances was formed, providing clients for the first time, access to interdisciplinary resource planning, engineering and architecture services. Derek leads the architecture team.

Great team

Derek says that he is inspired by having a great team to work with. The interdisciplinary “concept to completion” approach is very rare. “Architecture is a very intimate journey alongside your client. You start by ‘getting inside their heads’ to understand their vision and then work to explore and reveal the full potential of that initial vision.”

Building performance key

Derek says that one of the most satisfying parts of his work at Smart Alliances is working across the disciplines to provide their clients with the best possible balance of “function and form” while accommodating the client’s needs and constraints such as district plans and site considerations.

“People often think that the essence of architecture is how attractive a building or space looks. Aesthetics is an important element but what is even more important is the way it works for its owners and occupants and how it makes them feel. That is the real ‘art’ of good architecture.”

Shaping the “face of Blenheim”

Much of the architectural face of Blenheim that can be seen today has been shaped by the Smart Alliances team in one way or another.