Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Neues Bauen

Model from Neues Bauen exhibitionStarting 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.

TheNewDowse on opening dayDespite 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.


At 2:04 pm, February 19, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On a tangent. This made me check out the VUW Architecture site, there is some impressive stuff in the gallery by the students:


My favourites have to be:

Claire Sharpes auditorium and park for the block currently occupied by the Oaks complex and pigeon park. (I've long maintained pulling down the oaks and some decent planning could turn this into a fantastic urban square & park.)

NIWA head office (down at where they're building the Meridien Energy building on the waterfront)

(Shame that the new aquarium wasn't more tightly linked in with the NIWA and university facilities to build a world class oceanographic institute on a more practical site instead of a really expensive cafe, would be far more beneficial to the city.)

At 3:07 pm, February 19, 2007, Blogger Tom said...

Yes, there were some great projects in that exhibition, and I keep meaning to write about a couple of them (if only I had more time!).

As far as the aquarium goes, my understanding was that the water quality in the harbour wasn't good or consistent enough, so a south coast location was necessary. Otherwise, combining it with NIWA sounds like a great idea. I think, though, that most of NIWA's work is about oceanography and climatology, rather than marine biology, so there might not be quite the same scope for synergy from combining it with the Marine Education Centre


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