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... 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... Read More

On Screen Architecture

This is a shout out for the Resene Architecture & Design Film Festival 2016. I suggest that you grab a copy of the excellent programmes and go see something that interests you. Miss M and I have been to three so far. First up, and the highlight thus far, was Strange & Familiar: Architecture on Fogo Island. Born on the remote Newfoundland island, Zita Cobb left for university at a time when multinationals had all but decimated the local fishing... Read More

Heritage Houses in the Hutt

I took a short break this week in the middle of some design deadlines to visit to a John Scott 1970s’ gem, still owned by the friends of John who commissioned it. (Thanks to Lower Hutt architect Bruce Sedcole for organising the visit). I’m both a professional and personal fan of John and his work, and deeply admire his contribution to Māori architecture and defining bi-cultural architecture in 20th century New Zealand. Read More  Read More

In Praise of the Picturesque

Miss M and I have just returned from a trip around Northland.  It was in 2002 when I last visited the Far North. The Kerikeri Stone Store and Kemp House in Kerikeri, The Mission House in Waimate and Pompallier House in Russell, were all looking pristine, gorgeous in their settings, and were attracting hordes of tourists. The Stone Store As I was steering around the lovely Far North roads, I got to contemplating what has happened to the design of... Read More

New Plymouth Redux

In 1975 I designed a large house perched high above New Plymouth for a local businessman. This was a challenge to a young frisky architect, and I gave it my best. My client ran a successful and innovative furniture company, based largely on wood as a material. Read More  Read More

Melbourne surprises

When I was at university in the sixties, I wrote an essay about sex in architecture. It wasn’t about bedrooms, it painted a bigger picture. My metaphor was the ‘Dance of the Seven Veils’, a biblical story in which the fertility goddess Ishtar removes an article of clothing at each of the seven gates leading to the underworld. Of course there is such a thing as architectural strip tease, and Professor Toy took my essay seriously. In real life,... Read More

Zoo View

It was a sunny Sunday and so as you do Miss M and I went to the zoo. I hadn’t been for 5 years. I knew the animals were diverse but the buildings are now too. This was a pleasant surprise. Read More  Read More

Cob Jobs

Miss M and I have just returned from a memorable road trip round the top of the South Island which culminated with a drive through the DOC administered Molesworth Station. Its 180,787 hectare area makes it the largest farm in New Zealand. There are several active fault lines transecting the property causing horizontal jolts often triggering landslides and rockfalls. Hot and dry summers are followed by harsh winters. Snow may fall at any time of the... Read More

Maori Architecture

I confess to being a late starter in learning about our indigenous architecture. Growing up in suburban Hamilton was an impediment. Two years ago I had my first real functioning marae experience. It was an occasion of great sadness – a tangi for a fine young man, at Tu Teao Marae in Te Teko.   But through the sadness, I couldn’t help but note the wonder of how the special sequencing, the disposition of the buildings around the central open... Read More