Wool­sheds carry a lot of sym­bol­ism

The Timaru Herald - - Weekend -

Through­out the many gen­er­a­tions of hu­man set­tle­ment upon the is­lands of Aotearoa the shed has be­come a sig­nif­i­cant el­e­ment in our so­ci­eties.

Some may not re­gard a shed as a work of ar­chi­tec­ture but in fact ar­chi­tec­ture cov­ers all types of build­ings for all man­ner of func­tions.

In 1984 David Mitchell and Gil­lian Chap­lin pro­duced a wide sur­vey of New Zealand ar­chi­tec­ture in their pop­u­lar The

El­e­gant Shed – but in fact this over­view reached far be­yond sim­ple shed forms.

Per­haps those three words above, con­vey­ing an in­born sta­tus in util­i­tar­ian build­ings, should at­tach to the works of Oa­maru artist Colin Wheeler, who spent many hours sketch­ing and paint­ing wool­sheds through­out the land, of­ten sit­u­ated in dra­matic land­scapes.

John Scott the prom­i­nent Ma¯ori ar­chi­tect from Hawkes Bay, saw the wool­shed and its shear­ers as the per­fect sym­bol of a mix­ing place for our peo­ples of dif­fer­ent races, ages, and back­grounds. There is also the ‘‘town meets coun­try’’ as­pect, which ap­pealed to him.

Typ­i­cally a shear­ing gang will in­clude ca­sual shed hands as well as the ex­pert crew. In a sim­i­lar vein the other mix­ing place pro­vided by the wool in­dus­try has been a much larger type of shed – the vast wool­stores of­ten lo­cated ad­ja­cent to a port. These im­pres­sive sheds have cre­ated much needed work for ter­tiary stu­dents over the long sum­mer break, work­ing un­der the di­rec­tion of loyal staff.

The pho­to­graph above shows the for­mer Pyne Gould Guin­ness Wool­store at the port of Ti­maru. The saw­tooth roof form is an ef­fi­cient struc­tural sys­tem, with the ver­ti­cal panels clad in translu­cent ma­te­rial to flood the in­te­rior with nat­u­ral light.

– David McBride

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