Favourite build­ing

Nicholas Stevens on his Gum­mer and Ford home and of­fice

HOME Magazine NZ - - Con­tents -

“May­fair is one of Auck­land’s most el­e­gant build­ings. It looks like a neo-Ge­or­gian doll’s house in red brick and off-white plas­ter, beau­ti­fully pro­por­tioned with a palm-court en­trance, clay-tile roof and sash win­dows. Chil­dren of­ten say it looks like Made­line’s house. It sits like a sen­tinel at the top of Par­nell Rise, a lit­tle piece of the Old World trans­posed to the New World. De­signed in 1928 by Gum­mer and Ford, the pre-em­i­nent ar­chi­tects of the day, and built by Fletcher Con­struc­tion, it was con­sid­ered an ex­em­plar for ur­ban liv­ing – and maybe it still is. With its hu­man scale, clever plan­ning and ro­bust ma­te­ri­als, May­fair can pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion for to­day’s live­able ur­ban in­ten­si­fi­ca­tion. It has been occupied by a cast of colour­ful char­ac­ters through­out the years – by ur­bane and cos­mopoli­tan types to bo­hemi­ans in the 1970s, then stu­dents when it was run down in the 1980s. Many peo­ple I’ve met have ei­ther lived there, had friends who did, or fre­quented par­ties there. Some­times there’s a sense of liv­ing in a novel; it’s a build­ing of so many sto­ries. But it’s also my favourite build­ing for an­other rea­son: it’s where I live and work. My wife Deb­o­rah and I were stu­dents when we moved in and have sim­ply never wanted to leave. Over the years we’ve ac­cu­mu­lated sev­eral apart­ments on the top floor for our home and across the foyer for Stevens Law­son – my prac­tice with Gary Law­son and our crew. I try to blame traf­fic conges­tion for be­ing late to work, but no­body buys it. May­fair is our bird’s nest, our sanc­tu­ary that over­looks the har­bour, the city and the Do­main, so close to the things we love.”

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