Monday, August 03, 2009


Not only the grammys or the oscars get worse every year, not because of the event itself, but because the entries get worse and worse year by year. The Home Magazine's annual Home of the Year, and the Registered Master Builder's Home of the Year awards have the same problem. It may be the recession, but in my opinion is the lack of understanding of what should be the role of architecture in the design of private dwellings. I mean, a shed painted in black is not good architecture... it is just a shed painted in black! Expensive fittings are not good architecture, they are expensive fittings, just like wearing expensive jewelery with sandals.

Don't get me wrong, I love it here... but there are two things that urgently need some improvement: one is the food, the other is architecture and building methods. Maybe both are co-related, places with good cooking usually have nice buildings too. Maybe you need good food in order to think clearly.

Anyway, I can't even start to compare any of those houses with the "residencia z" designed by one of my former architecture students Ivan Esqueda and his brother Francisco. See my point? Well, maybe entry B, the Glendowie House by Pete Bossley Architects is not that bad. However, their alteration to the maritime museum as a Tribute to Sir Peter Blake is probably not that successful.

My latest frustration with kiwi architecture is in my own backyard... well, to be precise, with our new neighbors! They are living proof that "nacos" exist anywhere. The unit next to us was sold a few months ago, but the girl who was renting the unit stayed until a couple of weeks ago when she moved to London. They soon started with renovations on the interiors... even during weekends until late, to the displeasure of our other neighbor the ex-consul. For me, it was OK, until they started painting the exterior walls with a horrible gray paint. It's not their choice of colour... it's the fact that there are at least two reasons why they shouldn't paint the exterior. First, because it seems they didn't get the consent from the other 3 owners of the building; and second, because it's a terrible thing to do, to paint on a wall finish that shouldn't be painted on.

OK, the building is most certainly not an architectural masterpiece, nor a listed building of any kind. But, it is (or was) a good honest example of state housing architecture of the 60's - 70's. Regardless, one cannot or should not compromise the honesty of a building just like that. If they wanted a 90's apartment, they should have bought a 90's apartment. It's like buying a t-shirt to make alterations, and dye tint that shirt to make it look like an Armani suit! It won't be an Armani suit... it will remain a t-shirt altered to look like an Armani. That's it! My frustration, is that many will consider this renovation to be fantastic... just like the same "nacos" out there, who think that the idea of a flying "cupula" is great! (picture by a friend of one of my former students)

At least the old look was honest... now the building has become a freak of nature. And to make things worse (for me) that "rejilla" thingy is crooked! It is at least 5 or 7 cm out of vertical axis. For those who know me, it is really a pain in my retinas (and other body parts) to watch something like that. I just keep my fingers crossed to be out of this building by the end of the month.

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