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Heritage postcards celebrate local architecture

Published: Mon 15 Dec 2003 01:39 PM
Heritage postcards celebrate local architecture
December 15, 2003
Celebrating local architectural heritage is the key driver behind a unique North Shore City Council and University of Auckland Architecture Archive partnership.
A set of postcards depicting New Zealand's own response to modernism has been created through this partnership and is now available for purchase. This low profile heritage period took place between 1942 and 1961, after the Victorian villa (circa 1890 - 1900s), transitional bungalow and Art Deco (circa 1920-30s) periods.
The eight featured houses were built on "the north shore" of Auckland (now North Shore City) during and after the Second World War. The attraction of the area's beaches and rapid population growth provided fertile ground for architects to gain commissions and explore the merits of designing for a South Pacific lifestyle. Seven of the eight houses still stand in North Shore City today.
Through the use of plans, sketches and photographs, the postcards give an insight into how the houses were built. Most of the images came from the Architecture Archive, launched in October this year as a partnership between the University Library and the School of Architecture. The Archive focuses on the New Zealand "modern period" with particular emphasis on the Auckland region.
The postcards portray important works by Vernon Brown and the Group architects such as Bruce Rotheram, Bill Wilson and Ivan Juriss. One card displays the group's "First House" in Northboro Rd, Takapuna with its purpose-built furniture bathed in sunlight in the living room and on the bare section complete with wire netting fence and pine tree.
The glass window wall of Bruce Rotheram's Devonport house features on another postcard, along with a thumbnail blueprint of the property, courtesy of the North Shore City Council's own archives. The house, which is still a strong design statement over 50 years since its design in 1951, was photographed by Patrick Reynolds in 2001 to mark the New Zealand Institute of Architects' Gold Medal award to Group Architects.
The postcards not only reflect post-war lifestyles but also show how design and architectural photography has developed. There are also interior views which show pioneering interior designs of the day such as Vernon Brown's 1942 Wright House Living Room with its exposed brick fireplace, and his 1950's Street House kitchen.
Architectural photographers who were pioneers in their profession are also represented in this postcard series. The cards include the work of Frank Hofmann, who photographed most of Vernon Brown's buildings, as well as Barry McKay Industrial Photography and Sparrow Industrial Pictures, much of whose work is now in the Auckland War Memorial Museum's photographic collection.
Heritage advocate and North Shore City Councillor Tony Holman says these postcards recognise the significant place heritage has in North Shore City.
"Its great to be able to promote some of the wonderful architectural heritage that contributes to our city's history," he says.
"I hope more people will value and become involved in conserving our heritage assets."
Councillor Holman says the postcards are one of the many initiatives North Shore City Council is taking as part of its commitment to heritage preservation.
People can buy the postcard set, which could be the first of a heritage series, from North Shore City libraries, council area offices and selected bookshops. The set of images can be viewed at
http://www.architecture-archive.auckland.ac.nz/
and
http://www.northshorecity.govt.nz/
The pack includes a quality card frame designed to hold all eight cards at once and allows people to display their favourite image from the set.
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