NZIA IN:SITU Conference 2019

Every two years New Zealand architects have their conference. I really look forward to it, and after weeks of anticipation, the two days of it were over in a flash. I needee to comment on the last conference and I need to comment on the significance of this one. It was the largest ever, with 1300 attendees. Morning , lunch and afternoon breaks were so socially intense that I actually looked forward to getting back to the auditorium to sit quietly... Read More

The Pertinence of Park Mews

I was sitting in my office one day minding my own business when the phone rang. The caller introduced himself as comedian Billy Connolly’s New Zealand agent. “Billy wants to meet you,” he said. Apparently on the way in from the airport, he’d passed Park Mews in Hataitai and stated: “The architect clearly possesses a sense of humour.” Read More  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  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... Read More

In the presence of a masterpiece

Every once in a while as I walk through a building that I have never visited before, I am overwhelmed by the feeling that I am in the presence of a masterpiece. This is what I sensed last weekend during a visit that was part of an architectural tour of Melbourne. Adding to the sense of wonder was the knowledge that my colleagues and I were among the first to experience a building that, when complete, is bound to grace the cover of every architectural... Read More

An architectural review of the film festival

I missed the Architecture and Design Film Festival this year ‘cause I was doing some architectural photography of a different variety. So I eagerly sniffed out any architectural offerings in this year’s New Zealand International Film Festival. Life is too short to watch self-indulgent and depressing drama, so my programme was biased towards interesting and (hopefully) uplifting documentaries in which architecture was either explicit or inferred.... Read More

Five Franks and a Phillip

I recently returned from mini sabbatical to the big USA. Naturally pilgrimages to iconic architectural houses were in order. I visited three Frank Lloyd Wrights and a Phillip Johnson, each open to the public and with highly informative guided tours. Top of the list was Wright’s iconic Fallingwater – well worth the four plus hour drive from Washington to its Pennsylvania location. It’s promoted as ‘Architecture as Experience’ and since it... Read More

Enduring Again

In addition to the Flint House, Roger Walker’s 1969 Stroud House also won an Enduring Architecture Award recently, this time in the NZIA Wellington Region Local Architecture Awards.   Judges commented; “This house has worn extremely well. It remains a wonderful insight into a more gentle and optimistic time. The tiny but nurturing scale is extraordinary and the ordinary materials are reassuring. The complex spaces and labyrinthine... Read More

Enduring Award

Roger Walker’s 1969 Flint House recently won an Enduring Architecture Award in the NZIA Auckland Region Local Architecture Awards.     Judges commented, “This perfectly maintained example of a house from a classic period of New Zealand architecture is a reminder of how fresh, playful and essentially novel Roger Walker’s work was — and still is. In a series of individually-articulated volumes set in a grove of kauri trees,... Read More

Island Time

My memories of Waiheke island was that at the end of a ferry ride, I arrived at an escape from Auckland suburbia into a rumpled and lushly covered landscape dotted with kiwi baches. A paradise for alternative Aucklanders wanting to escape the city. Now it has been discovered by the wealthy. Its holiday character has changed fundamentally because its desirability has led to great pressure on its limited land area. It is now effectively an elite suburb,... Read More