Friday, June 15, 2012

Ian Athfield - spectacular book honours outstanding architect

IAN  ATHFIELD is one of New Zealand’s best, and best-known, architects. And since 1968, with his partners and team, he has built a most distinctive architectural practice. The work of Athfield Architects encompasses a wide range of famous, infamous and little-known projects, from the Buck House against its vineyard rows to the expanse of Wellington’s Civic Square and waterfront, from libraries and university buildings throughout the country to the collaboratively designed New Zealand War Memorial in London. The phrase ‘an Athfield house’ conjures up especially vivid images: of plastered masses, white painted, stepping up or down precarious Wellington slopes – including Athfield’s own unfinished home and office that sprawls over an entire Khandallah hillside.

Athfield, an iconoclast from the beginning, shaped a firm that became known initially for these ingenious houses. But from the late 1970s Athfield Architects partnered with developers, leading the way through a postmodern corporate boomtime of commercial towers, candy-bright colours and canny reuse of redundant buildings. More recently, while continuing private and commercial work, Athfield Architects have been reshaping public spaces in our cities – notably Wellington – and leading dialogue about the opportunities for a rebuilt Christchurch. In this landmark book covering half a century of work, Julia Gatley takes readers through modernism, postmodernism and beyond. Athfield Architects shows how New Zealand’s leading contemporary  architectural firm is transforming the way we all might live.

DR JULIA GATLEY is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Melbourne and is a senior lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland. She has edited two bestselling and critically acclaimed books for Auckland University Press, Long Live the Modern: New Zealand’s New Architecture, 1904–1984 (2008), which encouraged the heritage recognition of New Zealand’s modern architecture, and Group Architects: Towards a New Zealand Architecture (2010), the first full assessment of this groundbreaking firm.

Below is a selection of photographs from the more than 600 shots in the book:

Top to bottom:

Logan House, Eastbourne. Photo credit Simon Devitt

Portrait of Ian Athfield in Civic Square. Photo credit grant Sheehan

The famous Athfield House in Khandallah. Photo credit Grant Sheehan. 
Manson House, Days Bay. Photo credit Simon Devitt

1 comment:

wade doak said...

This book is the most enrichening volume I own. I will explore it for years It should be part of everybody's education. Besides the extraordinary insights into architecture, it is an insight into a very original, sprightly kiwi mind with enormous energy. How many NZ architects can wield a hammer and have constructed homes? Have hands on experience of new building materials while absorbing the best of the past; have developed a philosophy of human habitation that has a major bearing on our future?