OK, Warren and Mahoney were only one of a number of practices from different disciplines involved in the New Zealand Shanghai Expo 2010 pavilion, and the rather blistering attack is not aimed at NZgovt’s favourite architectural practice alone, but there is certainly little holding-back in Byron’s critique over at the Productspec website).
I am little more circumspect about the whole expo-pavilion architectural typology, and am willing to accept its nature as a “3D powerpoint”, and as “an offensive exploitation of our cultural significance” – after all, that’s what expos are about, right? Same goes for cheesy Olympic opening ceremonies, and anywhere else where governments sponsor ‘creative’ renditions of nationalist foundation myths and cultural distinctiveness – Supreme Court anyone – this is in the same mold.
Anyway, along with the usual Maori kapa haka welcome, the lush fernery and boiling mud, this exhibition pavilion at least tries to present a broader picture of a “New Zealander” – one that includes a measure of suburban domesticity – acknowledging that we do live in cities (not the 100% pure wilderness). It might be a rather romantically sanitised vision that is presented (cue cute little girl etc.), but for me it is at least a start, which might well lead to a more mature vision of who we are as a people. Barry Crump is dead.
But I guess I should offer some comment about the building (here’s the obligatory digital flythrough)… can I just say that it has a good location in its favour, being close to China’s own pavilion (perhaps we do get some positive benefits from our FTA after all)… and that I am sure that it will be a popular and effective pavilion for the purpose it was designed for, and just leave it at that…?