Recent & future Arch Centre site visits – what say you?

We have been pleased by the positive feedback that we have received from members who took advantage of our recent house visits, and would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts and hospitality of Jane Black (Black House visit), Jule Einhorn and Di Austin (Einhorn House visit) and Bob White (Renwick House visit).


Viewing these houses allows us not only the chance to make connections back to the beginning, and in many ways the founding principles, of the Architectural Centre, but they also provide us with the opportunity to consider how we live and design for living today……compared with the past. Many at the visit expressed a feeling that there was a greater sensitivity in creating solutions to many basic ‘problems’ of living and living spaces that is just not apparent in contemporary work. Perhaps this is a function of the individuality of these solutions in contrast the ready availability of mass-produced off-the-shelf products today. Perhaps exposure to the thoughtful material palette and detailing casts an aura of ‘romantic nostalgism’ over the experience of these spaces – creating a consequent yearning for the perceived better days of the past. Perhaps it is the apparent organic simplicity, and the honesty of the planning, construction, and experience that mark these out as exemplars of good design, irrespective of era. Perhaps contemporary domestic design really is crap. Which buildings might be considered as contemporary exemplars to hold up against houses such as the ones that we have viewed?

I’d appreciate your thoughts on this, not only out of personal inquisitiveness, but also with the view of arranging further site visits in the future. Should we seek out more Modernist masterpieces? Do we want to see houses from a wider range of eras? If so, which eras are you keen to see? Are there particular houses or buildings you have always nurtured a desire to visit? Please comment/discuss below…



7 responses to “Recent & future Arch Centre site visits – what say you?”

  1. I’m really enjoying the series of Modernist masterpieces so far. To me there is a world of difference from these modern lived-in houses, to the rather bland and sanitized versions of modern architecture we see today. The only modern houses I see nowadays that are fantastic are ones where the owner has spent millions, and yet these houses were all quite modest in their reach and their construction.

    The plethora of little cupboards in the Einhorn house we saw last night – every nook and cranny had a secret opening surface, and made it interesting, as well as giving a good feel for how the Einhorns lived. Really lovely. But modern, straightforward ordinary houses: they are missing that spark of creativity, and in most cases, missing any signs of life.

    So, yes please: for me, i’d like to see more.

  2. Although I’ve had a slow start to the week, I was going to write that the suggestion that there are no exemplars of good contemporary domestic design is a load of old horsesh1t – however, Guy makes a very good point regarding the difference in budget between the exemplars of today, and those of the Modernist era.

    I don’t know if it can be done, but visits to examples of good contemporary low-cost design would be an interesting counterpoint. Anyone know of any?

  3. I’m with Guy – love to see some more Modernist houses. lovely sense of materiality and individuality, despite Modernist rhetoric of universality – ie mass production, repetition, standardization, etc…

  4. I’m quite keen on a visit to the ‘Brown’ House – designed by Roger Brown prob in late 50s or early 60s. In Khandallah – Nicholson Road somewhere. Not sure who owns it now.

    I’d also love to see the Alington house, which i understand is owned by a Mr Peter Wood now. I’ve heard so much about it – and i seem to be the only person in Wellington that hasn’t seen it…. do you reckon that could be arranged?

  5. Brown House sounds interesting – but I’ve never heard of it…
    I am very familiar with the Alington House – one of my all time favourites – I’ll look into that, although I suspect that it is pretty well known amongst AC membership??

  6. Edward Poot Avatar
    Edward Poot

    In Auckland, the Association of Architects has organized a very successful series of tours which enable the general public to visit a series of houses in one area to encourage consideration of architecture. See

    Good architecture should not be limited to only expensive homes; anything that can be done to show how this is possible would, I am sure, be widely welcomed.

  7. Thanks Edward. We’re having a freezing cold period down here in Wellington at present, but hopefully will do some more visits as the winter fades away….

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