Urban Designer - Vernacular Architect - Maritime Planner - Owner-Builder - Servant of Piglet - Educator - Author - Revolutionary - Peacenik - Tour Guide 

Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

Government Life Hamilton Print E-mail

ImageArchitecture is either full-steam ahead or dead stop. When a client decides to proceed they normally want the contract drawings finished the following day. However when a client decides to cancel a contract everything evaporates along with the money. The Government Life Building in Hamilton took this full-on process to an extreme.





ImageIt was the end of the government’s budget year and there was a surplus which would evaporate if it was not expended by the following week. It was Friday when the Commissioner rang. Nyall Coleman asked if I could design the largest and tallest building in Hamilton over the weekend. I agreed, with one condition. The Commissioner was to fly up with a sleeping bag and camp in the office for the weekend, making himself available at any hour of the day or night to answer any questions. Brian Marino, our engineer, moved in with his sleeping bag too. I did not need one. Sleep was not an option.


The drawings were finished on Monday night and approved by Cabinet on Tuesday. The job went ahead.

Image The building won an NZIA Branch Award in 1981.

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