Jan 7, 2009

Airport Terminal Demolition

Plans have been announced for the replacement of the 1960 Christchurch International Airport terminal building. Designed by the modernist architect Paul Pascoe (1908-1976), the New Zealand Institute of Architects awarded him their Gold Medal for this building.

The $208 million redevelopment is scheduled for completion in late 2010.

Christchurch Architect Peter Beaven reminisces about Paul Pascoe for the Architecture NZ magazine (article link opens in a new window).

"Well, one day during the early part of the war we were down in Sumner and I saw this bloke standing there – Paul Pascoe – and there he was, big tie, looking out to sea like Milton or something, you know, seeing poetry ... and he said to me, “Ah, young Beaven, what are you thinking of doing?” and I said “Well, I don't know really, I'm trying to be told”. He said “Come in to the office with me”. So we got on the tram and went in to his office and within two hours talking Paul Pascoe somehow made clear what I'd seen, who I was, what I should do.

Two hours with Paul, that was it. Pascoe was the one. He was a charismatic fellow who knew something that architects are not taught: that architecture was a mystery and a huge psychic need that people had to have. It's a performance. I can remember that I ran into Hedley Helmore who is another good old architect – you see Christchurch used to be good, now it's shattered of course, but that's another matter..."

Comment from an expatriate Architect, now living in Australia.
I have recently come across your rather excellent blog on Canterbury Heritage. Being an ex-Christchurch resident now located in Melbourne, it is great to be able to keep up with the great achievements of individuals intent on keeping at least some of Canterbury's heritage known and discussed. Though, I have noted that your recent posts have failed to pick up on the imminent destruction of the Christchurch airport domestic terminal. 

Considering the new proposal is by Warren and Mahoney; the once great, though now utterly terrible, modernist architects, it appears some ethical debate regarding the destruction of a modernist legacy by an ex-modernist-still-pandering-their-wares-as-a-modernist has yet to be taken up by the local architectural fraternity let alone by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. 

After Sheppard and Rout's rather elegant extension to the international terminal, considering the difficulties of an airport, you might have thought it would have encouraged the airport authorities to once again reach further afield than a tabla rasa corporate identity. Here's hoping the recent economic woes can slow them down.
A further Architect's comment:
It's worth going out to the airport to see the rather confusing affair - brought about by the building of the new control tower (somewhere between the Chalice scuplture and a slipped disk) and the sudden proportions of the carpark building. 

Considering the way things are going in Christchurch - the revealing of, then cowardly destruction of the Tivoli Theatre, the replacement of the neo-Gothic prison at Addington for a future slum, the almost too close to call gutting of the museum, the populist stink that is the new art gallery, Cashel Mall's hopefull redevelopmet only to be turned into little Brisbane, the inevitable flop that will be the new City Council chambers and the current lot of high-rise towers now plumbing their foundations into the earth.... 

One must ask; what will the current generations built legacy be? A recent book that came out was Long Live the Modern on Modernist NZ architecture, as well as Sir Miles Warren's autobiography. Both great and important books to have, if somewhat incomplete, and lacking a foundation text. Maybe a post speculating on future built heritage would be interesting, especiallly if you can get other readers involved?

Two other buildings worth commenting on; Peter Beaven's Port Authority Tunnel administration offices and Shadbolt House in Lyttleton; both utterly fantastic. Beaven's metabolist satirical ship building, and Shadbolt house's constructivist theatricality, provide an important legacy to our built environment.

1 comment:

E Coomber said...

Surprise, Surprise.
Another Modernist/Post 1900 building to be pulled down just because the city doesn't care or respect our architectural history!

This is just typical!