Rog on Beauty

Rog on Beauty is the personal blog of Roger Walker - architect, designer, traveller, car man, magazine reader, and raconteur. He started this blog as a cheaper alternative to holding court at various drinking establishments around the town to tell stories and share his opinion on the beauty of architecture, planning, design, cars, travel and anything else that takes his fancy.

The Art of the Collective Noun

Miss M and I are avid television quiz watchers. We pitch ourselves against the television contestants, with quiet competition between the two of us. She shines on the arts and literature subjects. I have distinct superiority when it comes to cars, building, and science.

We’re both not too bad on geography and rubbish on contemporary pop culture.

If the ITV were to suddenly ring me up and ask me to audition to become a Chaser, there’s a few standard things I would try to bone up on – the name of every country’s capital and the colours on their flags; the size of the planets and what their moons are called; everything about the periodic table; and the mysterious collection of words called Collective Nouns.

Question: The collective nouns for crows is:

A:  A sord
B:  A convocation
C:  A murder

Read More

The Leadfoot Festival

I recently attended New Zealand’s best kept car culture secret.


Barely publicised, this amazing event is held over two days in early February, at Rod and Shelly Millen’s immaculate ‘ranch’ at Hahei in the glorious Coromandel, a piece of paradise which they purchased 9 years ago.

It’s 150 acres of parkland and woods without any animal inhabitants.

Inspired by the legendary Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK, the Millens have built a 4.0m sealed driveway from their front gate up to their house, some 200 metres higher and 1.6 km further away, Read More

The world’s largest construction site

I have recently returned from the world’s largest construction site.

Tower cranes and trucks everywhere.

30 years ago Dubai started as a poor fishing village at the mouth of natural waterway called Dubai Creek.

Then ‘liquid gold’ was discovered. Read More


First up, allow me some nostalgia.

Several years ago a group of us graduates from the Auckland School of Architecture elected to conduct a regular lunch event to celebrate the life of one of our Wellington colleagues, Brian Hope, who had died suddenly.

This tradition has continued 2-3 times a year ever since, depending on co-ordination with our complex and overlapping lives.

Sadly, three more of the Wellington contingent, Sir Ian Athfield, Keith Wilson and more recently, John Craig, have also passed away, leading to the centre of gravity of our group moving to Auckland, where the majority of the sixties graduates now reside. Read More

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.