Hunt is on for some Kiwi 'grand designs'

MARIKA HILL
Last updated 06:32 23/03/2014

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If you're willing to suffer heartache, stress and potential bankruptcy in the bid to build your grand, dream home, TV executives want you.

Applicants are being sought for a Kiwi version of the hugely popular British series Grand Designs, to be screened on TV3.

In the British show, host Kevin McCloud takes viewers through the transformation of decaying buildings into inspirational works of architecture glory, often with over-blown budgets and tears.

Grand Design NZ is in the early stages of production by Imagination TV, the company behind MasterChef and New Zealand's Got Talent.

Talk has already started on who might host the New Zealand show, but TV3 is keeping its lips sealed on potential candidates.

Award-winning architect Pip Cheshire said he knew someone being screen-tested for the role, but would not be drawn on names.

A good host would cut through the confusing elements of architecture and explain clearly what makes a project special, he said.

"The thing that is really important is to speak in a lay-person's language about the mysteries of what people are trying to do when they make a one-off building."

He could see the show being a hit with New Zealand audiences.

"Building is like an opera. There is heroes and villains. House building is also so close to Kiwi hearts.

"The British series finds people with incredibly heroic dreams. Right from the first five minutes I just sit there speechless and think, how are you possibly going to do that by winter, but that's what makes great television."

The new series comes on the back of New Zealand's love affair with DIY projects and building series, such as hit reality show The Block NZ.

A spokeswoman for MediaWorks, Rachel Lorimer, said 10 hour-long episodes would screen in 2015 at the earliest.

New Zealand grand designers will also contend with local challenges such council permits and new earthquake building codes.

Imagination TV is on the hunt for interesting and inspirational home builds to be filmed over the next 18 months.

TVNZ screened its own answer to Grand Designs this month. The Art of the Architect follows a different architect each week as they attempt to create the building dream of a family or community.

Hosted by Peter Elliott, the series follows the transformation from empty site to finished house.

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- Sunday Star Times

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