Woolsheds carry a lot of symbolism
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