Group Architects: Towards a New Zealand Architecture

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Edited by Julia Gatley

 

We know there is another way of living in which a house is logically contrived for peace and comfort, where the sun brings life without faded carpets, and in which leisure and beauty are not interred in respectable museums. And we mean to find it for ourselves and make it real to everyone who feels as we do. . . . Because we want this in New Zealand, overseas solutions will not do. New Zealand must have its own architecture, its own sense of what is beautiful and appropriate to our climate and conditions. – The Group Manifesto

 

So wrote a precocious bunch of second-year Auckland architecture students in 1946, establishing themselves as the Architectural Group. They resurfaced several years later as Group Architects, in time becoming one of New Zealand’s most celebrated architectural practices.

Group Architects: Towards a New Zealand Architecture is the first full assessment of the firm. It follows the Group and their work through the middle of the twentieth century – from the early student collective to the Group Construction Company, Group Architects and Wilson & Juriss. In these various incarnations, the Group operated until the death of founder Bill Wilson in 1968, but have enjoyed an even stronger afterlife, influencing generations of younger New Zealand architects.

The Group are best known for their houses. Often timber, with open-plan interiors, these were, the Group claimed, houses ‘built for local conditions’ – suitable for our temperate climate and informal ways of living. But the Group also produced shops and offices, factories and kindergartens, and the book presents these and many other building types they worked on – from gabled, courtyard and geometric houses to recreational, industrial and commercial buildings – illustrated with redrawn floor plans, archival shots and new photographs of the buildings.

Editor Julia Gatley and her contributing writers draw on meticulous research to assess the Group’s interests, activities, the qualities of the buildings they designed and the men and women involved. Brilliantly illustrated and engagingly written, Group Architects uncovers the history and debunks the myths surrounding a firm that has become synonymous with New Zealandness in architecture.

 

Contributors

Contributing editor Julia Gatley is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Melbourne and is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning at the University of Auckland. Her critically acclaimed book, Long Live the Modern: New Zealand’s New Architecture, 1904–1984 (Auckland University Press, 2008), encourages the heritage recognition of New Zealand’s modern architecture.

Contributors to the book include Christine McCarthy on architectural education in the 1940s; Gill Matthewson on women and the Group; Kerry Francis on Group associate Odo Strewe; Brenda Vale on material and energy efficiency; Bill McKay on the Group’s context of modernism; Andrew Barrie on the Group and overseas influences; and Paul Walker and Justine Clark on where the Group fit into the New Zealand architectural canon. New photographs were taken by Simon Devitt and Paul McCredie.

 

October 2010, 285 x 235 mm, 272 pages, colour illustrations
Hardback, ISBN 978 1 86940 466 6, $75