We are inclined to consider bigger design practices, notably these the place the identification of the agency eclipses that of any particular person designer, as producing work that’s much less distinctive or adventurous. Structon Group, like all giant corporations, adopted the large flows of architectural evolution. Nevertheless, in a streak spanning the second half of final century, the agency was dwelling to a succession of designers who appeared persistently bolder and higher knowledgeable than have been these of rival corporations. Structon’s excessive modernism tended in direction of a voluptuous Latin mode somewhat than boxy, Californian cool. Its high-tech type sidestepped frilly space-frame fetishes for varieties that have been machinic and sculptural, and their PoMo was sharp and comely somewhat than podgy and pastel.
Structon was one in all a variety of team-based practices that emerged within the post-war interval. The nation was present process a normal constructing increase however such corporations might meet the particular and sophisticated new challenges posed by giant tower blocks, accommodations, college buildings and so forth. These corporations supplied totally different mixes of abilities. Kingston, Reynolds, Thom & Allardice emerged within the Nineteen Fifties, providing an unlimited vary of engineering disciplines, city planning and structure. Ex-KRTA workers shaped the core of JASMaD within the Sixties, providing a sweep of design disciplines, from structure and interiors by way of to environmental influence stories, post-occupancy analysis, and different kinds of design analysis and evaluation. Structon’s specific providing was architectural design and the associated engineering disciplines; they made buildings.
The agency emerged from an impeccable institution design lineage, passing again by way of necessary figures corresponding to John Sydney Swan, Frederick de Jersey Clere, and Joseph Dawson of Dawson & King. The agency had its architectural statesmen: Ron Muston led the agency to 2 NZIA Gold Medals; Keith Cooper produced a lot of the swish design we nonetheless admire; and Ross Brown set the design course by way of the buoyant years of the Seventies and Nineteen Eighties. Intriguingly, although, a lot of the agency’s import emerged not from gentlemanly bona fides however as a spot that gave room to kids. Ian Athfield, who was made a associate simply two years after becoming a member of the agency, labored alongside future southern maestro John Blair. SkyTower architect Gordon Moller had a summer season job, Māori trailblazer Rewi Thompson was a draughtsman for a spell and future NZIA Gold Medallist Stuart Gardyne produced high-profile business initiatives.
Structon finally unravelled within the monetary downturn that adopted the monetary crash of 1987. Stuart Gardyne took depart to design Metropolis Gallery Wellington. Ross Brown was lured to Auckland to work with Moller Architects on SkyCity. Many different multidisciplinary corporations underwent equally drastic change round that point. JASMaD narrowed its providing and have become Jasmax within the late Nineteen Eighties whereas KRTA was absorbed into a bigger engineering agency within the Nineteen Nineties. Plenty of our bigger corporations are at the moment including disciplinary strings to their bows however, if historical past is any information, it’s onerous to keep up. Disciplines don’t essentially share values. Not all clients need all companies, and it’s onerous to keep up constant high quality and profitability throughout totally different disciplines. Traces of fracture seem. The lesson of Structon Group is that expertise, even when simply passing by way of, trumps consistency.
1. 1950 – St Joseph’s Orphanage
17 Gibbons Avenue, Higher Hutt
A Catholic orphanage, this undertaking included a number of residential wings however the important thing aspect was a concrete chapel that options swooping arches on the tip partitions — maybe the closest Higher Hutt ever got here to Brazilian modernism. The undertaking was awarded the NZIA Gold Medal in 1952. Within the Seventies, small retirement dwelling villas started being added to the positioning and, within the Nineteen Eighties, the orphanage turned a relaxation dwelling for retired nuns. Jasmax is at the moment constructing a brand new facility in what was the entry court docket — the orphanage wings could not survive for much longer however the chapel is being retained. Refer NZIA Journal Sept 1953.
2. 1953 – St James’ Anglican Church
71 Woburn Street, Decrease Hutt
Ron Muston’s most admired undertaking, St James earned Structon a second NZIA Gold Medal in 1954. Sited dramatically on a important method to town centre, it’s a easy composition — a crisp, triple-height nave quantity and an urban-scaled bell tower stand up from a skirt of single-storey ancillary areas. Internally, the repetition and delicate geometry of the structural body enliven the brightly lit nave. As Invoice McKay asserts, “At St James, the values of latest Christianity paralleled the modernist virtues of the practical and sensible”. Refer Invoice McKay, Worship: A Historical past of New Zealand Church Design (Auckland: Godwit, 2015)
3. 1956 –Conflict Memorial Library and Little Theatre
Queens Drive, Decrease Hutt
This excessive modernist constructing varieties a part of the Decrease Hutt Civic Centre redevelopment. In Lengthy Stay the Fashionable, Ian Bowman explains that “After the struggle, the Decrease Hutt mayor, J. W. Andrews, and the newly appointed metropolis planner, R.D.H. Hill, recognised an pressing must re-plan town centre, to beat site visitors congestion, haphazard development, rundown buildings and Council lodging unfold over a variety of previous buildings”. The redevelopment additionally included the City Corridor and Administration Block (1957) and the Horticultural Corridor (1959), each by King, Prepare dinner & Dawson. Structon’s The Dowse Artwork Museum was added later (1971). Refer NZIA Journal April 1955.
4. 1961 – NZ Racing Convention Constructing
85 Victoria Avenue, Wellington
Constructed for the organisation that oversaw thoroughbred horse racing nationally — notice the horseshoe decorations on the balustrades — the undertaking makes essentially the most of an acute nook website. A stack of curved balconies turns the nook and the undulating concrete cover sheltering glass store fronts continues the curvilinearity. Attributed to Keith Cooper, the design reveals what’s, for this nation, an unusually exuberant type of modernism; the undertaking was dismissed as an ‘over-dressed previous girl’. A penthouse was added in 1974 and the constructing survived threats of demolition within the Nineteen Eighties, receiving an NZIA Wellington 25 12 months Award in 1990. Refer Structure NZ Nov/Dec 1990.
5. 1961 –St Mary’s Convent
15 Guildford Terrace, Thorndon
One in every of Muston’s final initiatives, this convent served the Sisters of Mercy, who workers the long-established Catholic women’ faculty subsequent door (see itemizing 11). The composition was shaped in crisp volumes of white plaster and textured brick, with stripes of breeze-block-type fenestration and rooftop sunshades giving the advanced a definite tropical flavour. Following established patterns, the buildings have been wrapped round walled backyard courtyards, created for train and contemplation. This decrease stage has now been refurbished as a convention centre and a classy chapel, which was a part of the unique convent advanced, has lately been demolished. Refer NZIA Journal June 1966.
6. 1966 – Training Home
178 Willis Avenue, Wellington
Sporting a particular cranked frontage, this seven-storey workplace constructing was constructed for the New Zealand Instructional Institute (NZEI), the physique that represents academics in state faculties. The NZEI occupied the highest ground, with the remainder of the constructing serving as an funding for the organisation. One other bigger tower — additionally by Structon — was constructed on the rear within the Seventies and the advanced is now scholar lodging. Central Wellington is dotted with Structon-designed workplace towers — one other gem is the Nationwide Financial institution Constructing (1969) at 17 Featherston Avenue, given specific notice as an Athfield-led undertaking. Refer House & Constructing April 1970.
7. 1966 – Manchester Unity Constructing
120 Lambton Quay, Wellington
This constructing was sited subsequent to Plischke & Firth’s curtain-walled Massey Home (1952) and its purchasers explicitly precluded using a glass frontage. This led to the pleated concrete canopies and the tiled frontage, with its distinctive diamond-shaped — some say coffin-shaped — home windows. The extremely patterned frontage additionally served to masks the truth that the scheme tucked an additional ground into the identical top because the adjoining Massey Home. Pop round to see the frontage on The Terrace however, out of sight from passers-by on each streets, a glassy, rooftop boardroom was tucked underneath a pleated roof. Refer NZIA Journal April 1966.
8. 1968 – Gibbes Watson Conservatory
2 Myrtle Avenue, Decrease Hutt
Positioned close to the Decrease Hutt Civic Centre, this website was initially thought-about for The Dowse. Accomplished the 12 months Ian Athfield departed Structon, this undertaking was designed by Ath and John Blair. The constructing was composed as a sequence of glass pavilions, every surmounted by a pyramidal glass roof. One pavilion serves as an entry to 3 extra pavilions, respectively displaying tropical, subtropical and temperate vegetation. A stable fifth pavilion to the rear comprises heating tools. Metal-framed pergolas coated in vines, which appear to be a later addition, now soften the geometry. It’s wanting a bit unloved at current. Refer NZIA Journal April 1970.
9. 1983 – Physics and Engineering Laboratory
69 Gracefield Street, Gracefield
This advanced of workshops and laboratories was designed for the Division of Scientific and Industrial Analysis, then the federal government’s major technique of supporting technological innovation. The important thing want was for flexibility, which was supplied by Ross Brown’s moon-base-like association of ‘free match’ buildings, nodes and courtyards. The high-tech composition was accomplished by externally expressed companies, initially brilliant pink. The advanced is now dwelling to the VUW Robinson Analysis Institute. The undertaking has obtained a number of NZIA awards – a Wellington Department Award in 1984, a Nationwide Award in 1985 and an Enduring Structure Award in 2008. Refer NZIA Journal June 1977 and NZ Architect 1, 1983.
10. 1980, 1984 – Colonial Mutual Life Constructing
117 Customhouse Quay, Wellington
Inbuilt two phases underneath Ross Brown’s management, this sculptural, mirror-glass advanced changed an art-deco workplace tower by Melbourne-based Hennessy & Hennessy, the development of which had been overseen by Structon antecedent Swan & Lavelle. The 18-storey tower was a primary stage, with the second stage meant to be a refurbishment of the art-deco tower. Nevertheless, the purchasers finally determined a refurbishment could be unsatisfactory and required a second part to match the primary. The undertaking obtained NZIA Department and Nationwide Awards in 1985, and an NZIA Wellington Award for Enduring Structure in 2007. Refer Structure NZ Dec 1976.
11. 1986 – St Mary’s School
15 Guildford Terrace, Thorndon
The redevelopment of the School started in 1975, with the pushing by way of of the adjoining Wellington motorway and in response to elevated earthquake-strengthening requirements. It befell in 5 phases, leading to related gymnasium, administration and instructing blocks. Clere & Clere’s old-fashioned corridor (1930) was partially demolished with a brand new concrete construction added to bolster and prolong the unique constructing. Varied phases received NZIA Department Awards in 1981 and 1986. Refer Structure NZ Mar/April 1986 and Could/June 1987. Simply down Guildford Terrace at 44 Hill Avenue is the Ross Brown-designed British Excessive Fee (1990), an essay in postmodernism. Refer Structure NZ Sept/Oct 1990.
12. 1988 – Solar Alliance Home
139 The Terrace, Wellington
Designed by a younger Stuart Gardyne, this workplace constructing sits on a difficult wedge-shaped website, and needed to squeeze a car and pedestrian entry into its slender avenue frontage. The answer is a classy composition — horizontal-striped facet partitions sandwiching a façade of tautly curved glazing, the doorway enlivened by an angular entrance cover. Finishing the studying of the constructing as a condensed cityscape, entry is a compressed route that steps and winds up into the constructing like a laneway. The undertaking obtained an NZIA Nationwide Award in a particular City Context class in 1989. Refer Structure NZ Could/June 1989.
13. 1991 – Chapel of Our Woman’s House of Compassion
2 Rhine Avenue, Island Bay
The final a part of a 15-year redevelopment of the House — together with hospital, convent, administration, archives and lodging — led by Ross Brown, the chapel was meant because the excessive level. It was designed with artist John Drawbridge (stained glass and stations of the cross) to create an aura of silence and reflection. Bestowing an NZIA Department Award in 1991, the jury wrote, “An air of serenity and peace applicable to worship and solitude has been achieved by a delicate number of supplies, using present components and a profitable stability of pure mild. The entire is given energy and focus by the ground to ceiling home windows going through out onto the valley.”
Structon emerged from the partnership of John Sydney Swan and William Lavelle. Swan started his prolific profession practising with Wellington maestro Frederick de Jersey Clere within the Eighties, finally establishing a partnership with Lavelle in 1935. Swan died in 1936 however the agency continued till 1944 when it mixed with Muston & Associates to type Structon Group. The identify was a aware reference to Tecton Group, the novel modernist agency energetic in London previous to World Conflict II. At its peak, the agency had 120 workers throughout workplaces in Wellington, Auckland and Palmerston North. Work spanned the nation, together with giant fireplace stations in Kilbirnie and Palmerston North, and a string of award-winning regional workplaces for the Housing Company and the Rural Financial institution (typically mixed) from Timaru to Gisborne to Manukau Metropolis. Structon had 20 workplace buildings on its books on the day of the inventory market crash in 1987.
Refer NZIA Journal Feb 1975 for Lavelle and Muston’s obituaries.
CML Constructing (1959)
20 Laings Street, Decrease Hutt
A modern workplace constructing now being transformed to residences.
Wharenui Flats (1960)
274 Oriental Parade, Wellington
Structon founder William Lavelle was a resident till his demise in 1974.
Christ Church Cathedral (1967)
1 Trafalgar Sq., Nelson
Completion of the Nineteen Twenties’ design.
The Dowse Artwork Museum (1971)
45 Laings Street, Decrease Hutt
One other a part of the Civic Centre, the undertaking was altered and prolonged by Athfield Architects in 2006. Refer NZIA Journal July 1972.
Housing Company Places of work (1978)
1 Walton Leigh Avenue, Porirua.
Housing Company Places of work (1979)
5 Osterley Means, Manukau Metropolis.
Natwest Home (1984)
132 The Terrace, Wellington
Refer NZ Architect 6, 1984.
Former Rural Financial institution (1986)
16 Bell Avenue, Whanganui
Winner of a Monier Design Award in 1985 and an NZIA Department Award in 1987. Refer NZ Architect 6, 1985.
Kitchener Avenue Constructing (1990)
36 Kitchener Avenue, Auckland
NZIA Auckland Department Award in 1990. Refer Structure NZ Complement Nov/Dec 1990.
Structon’s initiatives have been properly printed within the journals of the occasions, though there isn’t any notably good, printed survey of even a portion of the observe’s output. David Kernohan’s Wellington’s New Buildings (Wellington: Victoria College Press, 1989) contains a number of Structon initiatives, with a smaller subset in John Walsh and Patrick Reynolds’ Wellington Structure: A Strolling Information (Auckland: Massey College Press, 2022). Geoff Mew and Adrian Humphris’ hefty historical past of Wellington architects and kinds as much as 1940, Raupo to Deco (Wellington: Steele Roberts Aoteoara, 2014), contains protection of William Lavelle and his function within the institution of Structon. Athfield’s contributions at Structon are coated in Julia Gatley’s Athfield Architects (AUP, 2012) and different Structon initiatives are coated in Gatley’s Lengthy Stay the Fashionable (AUP, 2008). There’s additionally attention-grabbing commentary in David Mitchell and Gillian Chaplin’s The Elegant Shed (Oxford Univ. Press, 1984) and in Terence Hodgson’s Wanting on the Structure of New Zealand (Grantham Home Publishing, 1990).
The itinerary sequence is supported by Dulux Colors of New Zealand. Dulux Color Specialist Davina Harper has chosen a Colors of New Zealand palette based mostly on this itinerary. See the total vary and order color samples right here.