De­sign note­book

HOME Magazine NZ - - Design Notebook - Q&A with ar­chi­tect Giles Reid

Why did Beaven close his Christchurch prac­tice and take off to Lon­don? I met Pe­ter sev­eral times just af­ter I grad­u­ated: friends from Auck­land had just started work­ing in his of­fice, which was lo­cated up in the rafters of Ben­jamin Mount­fort’s Pro­vin­cial Coun­cil of­fices. We would get to­gether of an evening, with Pe­ter hold­ing court. His set up was small, but my strong sense was he couldn’t be hap­pier than when crouched over the draw­ing board. In a large of­fice, by con­trast, the dis­trac­tions mul­ti­ply – ad­min­is­tra­tion, staffing and the tread­mill of bring­ing in big jobs to keep the wheels spin­ning. I sus­pect this played a part in Beaven clos­ing his of­fice af­ter the suc­cess of the Com­mon­wealth Games sta­dium (1974). He was a key part of the Christchurch School in the 1960s and 70s. How did that work trans­late to 1980s Lon­don? When you read the Ar­chi­tec­tural Jour­nal piece, you re­alise New Zealand ar­chi­tec­ture’s rep­u­ta­tion in Eng­land at the time was pretty high. Beaven, Miles War­ren and, fur­ther south, Ted McCoy were cre­at­ing ar­chi­tec­ture that was recog­nis­ably of its place. That played well in the English ar­chi­tec­tural scene, which was look­ing for a path be­yond in­ter­na­tional modernism. So in the is­sue of Con­crete Quar­terly in which Tile Kiln ap­peared you also find an ar­ti­cle re-ap­prais­ing the Gothic Re­vival. That move­ment runs as a rich vein through Christchurch’s ar­chi­tec­ture, from Mount­fort to Beaven him­self. Liv­ing in Eng­land placed Beaven at the foun­tain­head of Vic­to­rian ar­chi­tec­ture. How did you hear about the stu­dios? When I first came to Lon­don, I had a rel­a­tive liv­ing in High­gate whom I would visit. I be­came fas­ci­nated by the build­ing as I went past on the bus. A bit later I made the con­nec­tion to Beaven. The idea of a New Zealan­der work­ing in Lon­don and mak­ing a go of it, of course, has per­sonal rel­e­vance. Af­ter pho­tograph­ing the build­ing, one of the own­ers asked with help to re­store their place and im­prove the land­scap­ing, so I am now work­ing on that.

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