The photographer visited Christchurch to cover a new home (p.86) and a 50-year-old college building (p.58).
What was it like visiting Tobin Smith’s little house?
Wonderful. Such a perfect cave; outside so defensive and receding, inside so light and nurturing. And with a good strong Christchurch gable.
You live in a lovely family villa renovated by Malcolm Walker. Can you see yourself in a smaller space?
Absolutely. Getting a bit itchy for the next project in fact; not that we're done with the current one by any means, we still love it so much. But we are quite excited by the thought of the perfectly formed and located apartment... when the ‘flatmates' move on.
You also revisited College House for us. What were your impressions?
A revelation. Sir Miles in his mid-century pomp, delivering a probably only-inCanterbury kind of well-mannered Brutalism. And I marvel at the genius of the high-minded Anglican institution that enabled it to happen and that nurtures it still. Within the wonderfully massed glacier-edge white block forms there's the general programme of an Oxbridge college, which is also ushered up in moments of arts and crafts detailing, particularly in the dining hall. There's a proper quad: its regularity magnificently interrupted by the mass of the seemingly suspended chapel. This building, representing the ideological heart of the endeavour, arrests the pedestrian through the aggressive compression of its overhang. Such confident theatre is rare in New Zealand architecture.
What else are you working on at the moment?
I'm keen to return to Christchurch and take a longer look at the rebuild. There's a new book project circling, and another as yet unconfirmed urban project. And with urban advocacy in Auckland, I've recently jumped the fence, poacher to gamekeeper, with a role with the Auckland Transport board. It's a very exciting time in the development of Auckland's built environment.