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Tony Watkins

 ~ Vernacular Design 

Planners take note Print E-mail

ImageChris Barton is to be congratulated on his superb feature in the Weekend Herald on Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia. There is a lot more to architecture than a few glossy photographs and mediocre text, marketing the latest boring “award winning architecture”.




Our built-environment senses have been dulled by endless newspaper pages which fail to rise above the level of second-hand car advertisements. But beyond the spin doctors the background stories of buildings are endlessly fascinating.

Mark Burry should be a household name in New Zealand. Unfortunately, because sport is valued more highly than our built environment, he is better known and recognised globally than in his homeland.

Yet the work he is doing in Melbourne exploring how design affects every part of our lives is central to our success as a nation.

With the prospect of a new Auckland “spatial plan” we might expect fierce debate about the built environment. After all, architecture and urban design determine how we lead our lives. As Churchill said “We make our buildings and then our buildings make us.”

The silence in the local press has made us gullible to the spam of developers who know how easy it is to con local government into supporting their latest idea for making money.

We are fortunate indeed that Chris Barton has begun bringing us the benefits of his Qantas Wolfson Press Fellowship at Cambridge for research into architectural journalism. With quality writing and healthy debate we have a chance of rising above the torpor of the narrow-minded planners who control our lives. Just in time, but not too late. We hope.

Tony Watkins, Karaka Bay



Published in the New Zealand Herald 17 January 2011 

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