Architect of Dreams

Last year, I went to see ‘Architect of Dreams (2008)’ at Music Box Theater for the event of 2012 Architecture and Design Film Festival. I left this article as a draft, but I decided to finish before it is too late.  The Program 8 that I watched included 3 different films, but the main show, Architect of Dreams was the one that inspired me the most.

Architect of Dreams is a documentary written and directed by Geoffrey Cawthorn featuring the life of New Zealand’s architect, Ian Athfield.

One thing that grabbed my attention the most was his monumental Athfield House situated on the hillside called Khandallah.

Ian Athfield House

It appears as a village but it is actually a collection of multiple homes along with the office for whoever works there.  The village concept was very surprising to me at first. The documentary showed how all the people who work there became a whole family all together. In addition, the ‘village’ was growing along the hill as the families were growing.  I am not sure how it would be received politically, and socially, but It was very interesting to see that he built the ‘village’ brick by brick with his vision in mind.

As the film documented his life and work, I also really like the Adam Art Gallery.


Adam Art Gallery

Adam Art Gallery


Adam Art Gallery Exterior Pre-weathered Zinc Panels

Adam Art Gallery, Aerial

Adam Art Gallery

Adam Art Gallery, Exterior

Adam Art Gallery, Interior

Adam Art Gallery, Interior

Adam Art Gallery, Interior

Adam Art Gallery, Interior

Adam Art Gallery, Interior

The Adam Art Gallery, Te Pataka Toi is the purpose-built gallery for Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand (1999).  As one can see from the plan drawings and photographs, it is an unusually narrow building.  In fact, when Ian Athfield designed the building, it was an invited competition he won that he had to build on top of an existing “Culliford Stair (back stairwell)” which was once a staircase that connecting various campus buildings (mid-sixties) but later abandoned due to safety issues.  I think this project shows Ian Athfield’s great use of internal space. The space that embrace how people move through and use with a variety of flexible gallery spaces.  It may seem so little from outside with a thin wedge look, but once one turns the corner from the front gallery, a (three story) tall dramatic space would surprise any visitors with astonishment with a vertical beam of light at the end.  It was a tight foot print project, but providing the tall space really worked well here.

One thing I learned here was that a building is a building of spaces.  Great spaces make a great building. And it performs.



Adam Art Gallery, Te Pataka Toi Book

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