Favourite build­ing

De­signer Matt Arnold of Sons & Co has a soft spot for an odd lit­tle piece of con­crete bru­tal­ism in Christchurch.

HOME Magazine NZ - - Contents - Pho­tog­ra­phy Kate Clar­idge

Matt Arnold’s soft spot for a con­crete mono­lith

“This is not a build­ing at all, but a lit­tle ex­per­i­ment. It’s a demon­stra­tion, a proof of con­cept, part of the School of Forestry at the Univer­sity of Can­ter­bury. The story goes that the ar­chi­tects, Hall & Macken­zie, de­signed the build­ing with a sur­face ef­fect of cast ribbed con­crete, ham­mered back to re­veal the stone ag­gre­gate. The client wasn’t con­vinced, so a de­ter­mined Keith Macken­zie cre­ated this test struc­ture to demon­strate the fin­ish, prove his point and win the day. He also in­cluded some al­ter­na­tives. Big mis­take. Never show op­tions! Per­haps pre­dictably, the de­ci­sion-mak­ers went with the third op­tion, a con­crete fin­ish that shows the im­print of the tim­ber board form­work. Ac­tu­ally, it looks fan­tas­tic, and I guess the com­mit­tee liked the pun of a forestry school cov­ered in wood grain, but per­haps it could have bet­ter? Keith thought so. The ar­chi­tects may have lost the bat­tle, but the big lump of con­crete stub­bornly re­mains as a bru­tal, min­i­mal­ist sculp­ture – a re­minder of the dan­gers of the com­mit­tee, and a memo­rial to de­sign­ers over­ruled by their client.”

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