“Our solutions are more efficient and cost-effective than traditional balcony construction, without compromising on design,” says Belcanto Managing Director, William Stewart. Belcanto’s innovative, Grappler Glide-On® balconies are especially advantageous for projects with tight sites and schedules, William says. “Historically, balcony construction has required 8-12 trades on site and quite a lot of on-site materials, all of which are subject to adverse weather conditions and delays. Our factory-built solutions can be delivered and installed by just one trade at a rate of about 10-20 balconies per day.”
William spent 15 years with sister company, Urban Group, before Belcanto was launched in 2019. As Belcanto’s early projects have begun to reach completion, he says that the industry is starting to take notice. “Now that building professionals are able to see how quickly these structures go in and watch high-quality projects being delivered, it’s really reinforcing their confidence in what Belcanto can offer. We have also undergone and successfully completed all of the required fire testing; this is a significant achievement for us in terms of establishing a streamlined compliance pathway for external fire protection, a priority for anyone specifying our solutions.”
Belcanto entered discussions for their Rolleston St project back in 2020. “Hawkins had an ECI [early contractor involvement] to deliver the project and we were introduced to the client and architect. The site was complex and tight, and having the option to install balconies late in the program had real construction and program gains.” The 80-home development on Rolleston St offers studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments spread across 4 multi-storey buildings. It will also boast a round-the-clock Single-Site Supported Housing service and assistance from Wellington City Mission. “The Rolleston St design team saw the efficiency benefits Belcanto could provide – we have, at times, entered projects in delay and managed to recover that delay for them – and brought us in to complete 89 balconies in four different typologies.”
The patented design of the ‘cassette’, or floor structure, at Rolleston St remains consistent across all of the balconies, William says, but Belcanto provided some aesthetic variance to support the design vision. “There are both rectangular and corner balconies, some of which have been customised to support decorative privacy screening on one or both sides. We endorse keeping the structure and the engineering component as standardised as possible so the client can maximise the gains in cost and fabrication timelines, while also supporting architects to have influence on size, colour and personalisation.”
To facilitate this approach, Belcanto provides digital design tools to help architects and designers early on in the design process. “To get the true benefit of our balconies, we really need to be involved no later than the 30% developed design stage, before all the structural components are locked in. To better enable us to get involved early, we provide a pre-designed parametric Revit balcony to designers where they can then change the size, depth and balustrade type, and add screens. Straight-away they have a live balcony on their building that is nearly completely designed.”
As Belcanto’s network of satisfied clients continues to expand, William says that the business is growing its presence in New Zealand residential care homes and social housing, as well as looking to new opportunities overseas. “Kāinga Ora projects probably represent 50% of our work at the moment, but we’re also working with other providers of social developments in Auckland, installing over 200 balconies on a build with Summerset NZ, and working on several healthcare and residential care developments with Metlifecare and Arvida. In the longer term, we’re looking at building our presence in Australia. We’re already seeing the design process here in New Zealand becoming much more streamlined through software and parametric balcony families, and we’re excited to start taking these technologies and systems to the world.
“Perhaps the biggest piece of client feedback we get is about how simple it all is. If you’re not designing a fully modular building, you may not even think about adding modular components but there are huge benefits of using our solutions, even without a full modular construction. Ultimately, if you’re finding it challenging to design your traditional balconies, we are confident that we can save you time, money and frustration.”
To learn more and connect with William, visit https://belcanto.co.nz/.