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Greta van der Star

A trip to the Ari­zona desert un­earthed an al­ter­na­tive way of liv­ing for this pho­tog­ra­pher (p.46).

What did you make of Ar­cosanti, the eco city by ar­chi­tect Paolo So­leri?

He was prac­tis­ing some very im­por­tant ideas that should be con­sid­ered in all new city de­vel­op­ments. It's a great legacy. I would like to go back, stay a while and check out more of the in­te­ri­ors.

Could So­leri's prin­ci­ples be ap­plied back here?

Ab­so­lutely. His ideas about build­ing up to avoid ur­ban sprawl, and build­ing smarter to have less en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pact, are very rel­e­vant. It's as much about the hu­man ex­pe­ri­ence as it is about the en­vi­ron­ment. Ur­ban sprawl means it's harder to get from one side of the city to the other, and time is wasted in ve­hi­cles in­stead of walk­ing and in­ter­act­ing with neigh­bours. He was very for­ward think­ing. I would love Auck­land to feel more con­nected and less con­gested.

Tell us a bit about your back­ground.

I grew up in a sleepy beach town north of Auck­land where noth­ing much hap­pened, but the op shops were loaded with gems and there was bush to ex­plore and hills to skate­board down. My mum gave me a film cam­era when I was 16 and I've been tak­ing photos with it ever since. It led me to a de­gree in pho­tog­ra­phy at Unitec, and has been the driver for many over­seas ex­plo­rations. Hav­ing a cam­era loaded with film is the best way to ex­plore a city.

Where are you based and what else are you work­ing on?

I'm based in Auck­land. This week I'm work­ing on some images for lo­cal de­signer Penny Sage, plan­ning a trip to the US and ty­ing to­gether loose ends for the launch of Gen­eral Sleep, a sus­tain­able py­jama la­bel I've been work­ing on with good friend Bai­ley Mered­ith.

Gre­gory O'Brien

The writer, poet, cu­ra­tor and artist dis­cusses the de­mo­li­tion of a her­itage build­ing de­signed by John Scott (p.58).

When did you first en­counter Ani­waniwa and what are your memories of it?

In 1999 I cu­rated an ex­hi­bi­tion at City Gallery Welling­ton, based around Colin McCa­hon's Urew­era Mu­ral (1975), which had hung at Ani­waniwa be­fore be­ing taken by Tuhoe ac­tivists and sub­se­quently re­cov­ered. McCa­hon's paint­ing led me to Ani­waniwa, but it wasn't un­til I fronted up at the de­mo­li­tion that I re­ally started to 'get it'. The build­ing ma­te­ri­als might have been ba­sic and the struc­ture di­lap­i­dated, but this was clearly ar­chi­tec­ture of the high­est or­der – a repos­i­tory of knowl­edge, cul­tural mem­ory and hu­man emo­tion.

First Fu­tuna, then Firth, now Ani­waniwa. What else should we be wor­ried about?

We need to re­alise that these build­ings don't pre­serve them­selves. We also need to do some­thing. To the gen­eral public, mod­ernism can seem out­dated. We need to iden­tify key build­ings and ed­u­cate peo­ple about their im­por­tance in the de­vel­op­ment of ar­chi­tec­ture here.

How do we save build­ings like this?

We need bet­ter leg­is­la­tion and process. But the foun­da­tion has to be a broad, in­tel­li­gent dis­cus­sion in the wider com­mu­nity of what we value in our built en­vi­ron­ment. Public ed­u­ca­tion and en­gage­ment are es­sen­tial. Books, mag­a­zines and places like Fu­tuna have a role to play in this.

What are you work­ing on?

I was re­cently in­vited to con­trib­ute to an ex­hi­bi­tion in Aus­tralia in which 14 artists were asked to paint one of the 14 Sta­tions of the Cross. I was as­signed the first Sta­tion – 'Christ is con­demned to death'. Ani­waniwa in its fi­nal hours felt like at­tend­ing an ex­e­cu­tion; in 'First Sta­tion – Ani­waniwa' I brought to­gether the con­dem­na­tion of Christ with the con­dem­na­tion of Scott's build­ing.

Matt Philp

The rov­ing jour­nal­ist in­ter­viewed Mau­rice Ma­honey about his new-old fam­ily home (p.72).

To re­build it to its orig­i­nal form, this must be a much-loved de­sign and fam­ily home. What was it like to visit?

It's a beau­ti­ful home, but know­ing it's a kind of palimpsest of that ear­lier, de­mol­ished house makes it spe­cial. I loved the va­ri­ety of tim­ber, and builder Matt Stevenson's at­ten­tion to de­tail is im­pres­sive – the house was a na­tional win­ner in the Mas­ter Builders Awards last year.

Is there any­thing in par­tic­u­lar about this style of ar­chi­tec­ture that res­onates with you?

I've got a thing for mid-cen­tury houses, all that light and open space and close con­nec­tion with the out­side; they ap­pear ef­fort­less. The Ma­honeys' house has this ter­rific con­trast of com­pres­sion and re­lease as you step from the hall­way into the high-ceilinged liv­ing spa­ces.

What's the ap­peal of writ­ing about homes and ar­chi­tec­ture?

A few things. See­ing how a re­ally well-de­signed house can change the way peo­ple live at home, that's al­ways been in­trigu­ing. And I par­tic­u­larly like hear­ing the back­story about how the home's own­ers and the ar­chi­tect col­lab­o­rated. Given the stakes, it seems like a leap of faith on be­half of the owner, par­tic­u­larly those who pro­vide their ar­chi­tect with the vaguest, sketchi­est of briefs. Hap­pily, the theme seems to be that the fi­nal re­sult sur­prises in a good way.

You work across a breadth of ti­tles and top­ics – what are you work­ing on at the mo­ment?

I'm slowly shift­ing up gears af­ter a good Christ­mas break, with a mix of busi­ness, travel and ar­chi­tec­ture sto­ries to tackle.

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