Tourism and architecture

People, because they are not plants rooted to the ground, move around.

They choose places to go, save up, and then go there.

After the visit they mostly come back home.

Tourism is the largest industry in New Zealand and possibly the globe’s biggest financial activity.

My interest, naturally, is buildings. I have visited two Guggenheims (New York and Bilbao) the Eiffel Tower, the Shard, the Reichstag, and many outstanding other works of architecture.

The Taj Mahal, Brasilia, and Machu Picchu are on my bucket list.

Needing a rest from all this stimulation, Miss M and I recently had 12 days in Bali. I was much mistaken if I thought I was going to get away from beautiful buildings.

The Kanggu, Kuta and Seminyak beach strip which attracts most sun and surf seekers,is rife with stunning new resorts, nightclubs, restaurants and yes housing.

We stayed near Ubud, at a resort designed around elephants, with some of the best lodges and landscaping I have ever seen. This new Bali architecture has added a new layer to the existing dense grain of ancient and religious structures.

The experience got me thinking about how in New Zealand we can enhance the architecture to our visitor experience.

We didn’t start very well with the mediocre lost opportunity that is Te Papa, which because Gehry’s design was not considered at the time, is not the icon it should have been.

But we are doing well in Queenstown and at the Auckland and Wellington waterfronts. Christchurch has some promising green shoots coming out of the rubble. There are also some new regional gems.

Visitors love both our new architect designed houses in flash suburbs as well as the unpretentious and picturesque rural buildings visible in our pretty and unique countryside. Our stock of heritage buildings also have wide appeal to visitors.

Tourism is generated by the experience of other cultures. This requires an imperative that architecture has to express uniquely and clearly of its culture.

Our challenge in New Zealand is to reflect our own authenticity in all our new tourist buildings.


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