Ian Athfield has won a string of awards, more than 100 at the last count. In 2004 he was the recipient of the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ highest honour, the Gold Medal and from 2006-2008 he was president of the NZIA. In 2006 he became the first New Zealand architect to be registered as an APEC architect. In 1976 Ath won an International Design competition for housing in Manila. He has been involved in a teaching fellowship with Victoria University and has been a keynote speaker at a number of international conferences.

Ian Athfield has designed some of New Zealand’s most distinctive buildings, including Telecom building and Civic Square in Wellington, the library with its sculpted nikau palms, Adam Art Gallery at Victoria University.

But undoubtedly, his lifetime’s project has been Athfield House, perched on and spilling down Khandallah Hill like some 21st century crusader fortress, where up to 25 people live, and up to 40 people work. Athfield House is one of the most defining sights as you fly into Wellington – it looks amazing from the air, and of course from the ground.

The Designers Institute honours Ian Athfield's visionary thinking on how urban spaces are used, how we live and how we should be designing our cities. As Ath says, often the space between a building is more important than the building itself. Ath believes that in a house you should get a surprise every time you turn a corner or look up. Certainly, people do when they visit Athfield House.