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

Friday, April 20, 2007

Playing favourites #4: Rutherford House and Lambton Interchange

extensions to Rutherford HouseNumber four on my list combines the recent extensions to Rutherford House with the Lambton Interchange, so it's not so much a single building as a cluster or family of buildings; a diverse and exuberant collection of shapes, unified by a sleek palate of metal and glass. Some of the forms seem arbitrarily skewed at first, but they're merely expressing their underlying functions (the sloped floors of lecture theatres) with undisguised glee. What could have been awkward spaces underneath have been used intelligently for a ramp and a bookshop. Inside, light has been thrown about with almost profligate generosity: don't they know that bus terminals and pedestrian underpasses are supposed to be dank and forbidding?

The central building itself, the old Rutherford House, remains an undistinguished chunk of Ministry of Works construction no matter what attempts are made to dress it up, but the low-level additions have filled out the block to bring some urbanity to an area otherwise characterised by isolated buildings and lost spaces. Infrastructure, education and retail have been brought together to form a vital urban node, and the architecture not only reflects these mixed uses but lifts them to a level that recently has been all too rare in either public or private buildings.

Lambton Interchange


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