When Peter Elliott was asked if he was interested in auditioning for the role of host for TVNZ's new show The Art Of The Architect, he leapt at the chance.
"I love architecture and design, the way people put pen to paper and come up with something that improves some aspect of your life," he says. "And fortunately my enthusiasm must have shown through and I got the gig."
Elliott admits he came on to the series "pretty jaundiced about the building process", having seen the cost of his own home renovations balloon to twice the original budget for just half the project. "In effect
I thought, 'Okay, this must happen to pretty much everybody'."
The builds featured in The Art Of The Architect's eight episodes certainly reinforced that impression. "In most cases the budgets did blow out to a certain degree," says Elliott. "We do have a couple of episodes with people trying to put an architectural dream together on a financial shoestring, and they achieve it, but it's pretty hard."
The most spectacular blow-out, however, was the show's schedule: originally intended to take 18 months, the production dragged on for more than four years.
"What happened, of course, is that real life got in the way," says Elliot. "We had earthquakes and the global financial crisis and super cities and all sorts of things that changed the playing field for everybody."
Despite the various difficulties encountered, Elliott's appreciation of the architect's art, and architects themselves, remains undimmed by his experience on the series.
"I've learned that architects are some of the most fun people around. They just they seem to have a grasp on how to enjoy life."
Perhaps that's because most architects "make spaces where people have good times," Elliot muses. "I know it sounds odd that you can have bricks and mortar in a certain shape, and put a little detailing in there and somehow it improves your life but I've walked into some of these rooms and gone, 'Wow, this is a space that does something spectacularly well' - whether they make you feel warm or in balance or protected and nurtured or whatever. All these sorts of things I wouldn't necessarily think of as a mere human being, whereas architects seem to have this dialogue going on inside their heads. It's a terrific skill to have."
Elliott is impressed with how The Art Of The Architect has turned out. "I suspect the viewers will be too," he says, "because the journeys are so human and interesting."
If the audience responds the way Elliott predicts, though, fulfilling the demand for more episodes in a timely fashion will be a challenge. "When we were making the show, at the same time as going 'Oh my God, we're going to be doing this forever,' we did say, 'We should start the second series, because if it's a hit, we're going to have to get it up and running as quickly as possible'."
In the event, TVNZ declined to take such a punt, but an enthusiastic Elliott confides foundation plans are now being laid for its possible return.
The Art Of The Architect debuts Thursday, 7.30pm, on TV One.