Starting this Wednesday, the School of Architecture will be hosting a travelling exhibition of seminal modern architecture. Neues Bauen International 1927|2002 highlights some of the most influential works by architects such as Le Corbusier, Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. There's more information and images available on the website of the Institute for Cultural Relations.
While it would be rash to put it in the same league as such architectural icons, the Wellington region's most recent "Neues Bauen" shows distinct modernist sensibilities. The New Dowse (sorry, TheNewDowse) is not strictly a new building, but it's a significant extension and restructuring of the original, and from what I could make out among the crowds at its opening yesterday, it seems highly successful. There's perhaps a hint of Koolhaas in all the outsized supergraphics and contrasting slick and humble materials, but at heart it's still strictly modernist, like all the best Hutt buildings. On a fine day, the bright yellow paint shines through the open panels of Simon Morris' algorithmically perforated Rainscreen and vibrates against the sky, but I can't help but think that with the panels closed on a cold winter's day, it will feel more like a hostile steel bunker.
Despite that, and the fact that it's too much to expect one revamped building to bring a civic heart to the scattered mess of Lower Hutt Central, I really liked it for its combination of unapologetically rigorous forms and playfully applied decoration. I'd like to say more about the actual contents, but it was hard to see or hear much on the day, and the Droog Design exhibition was roped off from the milling hordes, but it'll certainly be worth a return visit.