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Michael Graves – PoMo gone to the grave


Too soon for bad-taste comments? Sorry Michael – I never knew you at all, but with a name like Graves you’ve probably had those jokes all your life. A life which has just ended – yes, sadly, the world’s greatest Post-Modern architect has, like the architectural style that he helped spawn, passed away. Far be it for the Arch Centre website to become just a succession of obituaries, but it is worth spending some time on the man, the movement, and the fusion of design craziness that they created together.
If you want to know more about the man, the Architectural Record has a good obituary here, which tells us he died at home in Princeton, aged 80, and was best known for two things: the Portland building in Oregon, and the whistling kettle he created for Alessi. Both were hugely iconic and defined a generation, but both were fundamentally flawed in basic functional design principles. The Portland building was undertaken by Graves when he was in his early 40s and had never built anything that size: a giant cube of space decorated on the outside with stripes and even large floral decorative wreathes, it has had endless discussion over its suitability as an office, Read More

The Public Love Tunnels

By Basin Reserve issues, News

If there is one thing that the public love, it is being let in to a secret underground space, to go boldly where no one has gone before… And last weekend, Wellington was allowed to venture into the giant slice through the earth that the NZTA call the Memorial Park underpass. At present it is just a large cut in the ground, but the base slab is under preparation, and soon they will start to work on the walls, and eventually the roof over.
Thousands visited – sadly, no record was kept of how many went through, but you can judge by the photos Read More

Underpass update

By Basin Reserve issues, Comment, News

NZTA continues digging the underpass tunnel below the future Memorial Park: pictures enclosed.
The route through is now almost complete from end to end, open for the first time ever, direct from Taranaki St right through to the Basin. It is a busy worksite, clogged full of diggers, excavators, soil-nailers, trucks, and still: an awful lot of rich brown clay. Read More

Holy Trinity

By Comment, News

At last the Anglican church in Christchurch appears to be speaking the same language as the people.
Finally, two years after the earthquakes, the Bishop Victoria Matthews has decided to approach the question of a replacement cathedral in a manner that does, to some extent, involve the People. A choice range of three possible options for rebuilding the Anglican Cathedral has been published today, and we wish our southern cousins all the best in the ensuing discussions.

We all know what Bishop Matthews preferred option is, as she has made her stand quite plain before, but at least, here are three options presented for discussion, even if the outcome is probably already well known. there is of course the full rebuild, looking just like the original:

Read More

Memorial Park

By Memorial Park Competition, News

The Prime Minister has announced today that the Memorial Park is to be a Park, and not a motorway. Hooray for common sense, good taste, sensible planning, appropriate responses, and joined up thinking.

There has evidently been a fair bit of quiet contemplative thought going on Read More


By News

If fully a sixth of the world saw the opening spectacular, then there is a good chance that one building is going to stick in people’s minds about this Olympics – the grand central stadium. Looking resplendent on opening night with a green and pleasant Hobbiton at its core, giant inflatable brick chimneys, five glowing rings dripping with enough gold to put Smaug fully at ease, and the curious sight of trampoline-size hospital beds and what seemed like every go-go dancer in Britain shaking their thing to what seemed like every song ever written in Britain – the stadium was the centre of attraction.

It has never been the most beautiful stadium in Olympic history – but, like many things in this modern London Olympia, it seemed to be striving even more for dischord. The edge of the stadium was planned to be, how should we say: very spikey. Designed by Populous, with the ‘help’ of the AA’s architect du jour, ex-Archigram Peter Cook (or should that be designed by Peter Cook, with help of Populous), it has morphed over time into something less spikey – but certainly no more pretty. Maybe London just doesn’t do pretty any more. Read More