Without a doubt, some of the finest examples of historic architecture are in the grounds of schools in New Zealand. From Kings College in Auckland, Otago Boys in Dunedin and, in the apex position - Christ’s College in Christchurch. Architectural Drawings of Christ's College is a celebratory look by Sir Miles Warren and Alec Bruce.
This compendium of architectural drawings show the painstaking work that went into the designs of the various buildings on the campus. From the chapel to the Chapman Block, the designs are presented in a beautifully hard covered book that accentuates the efforts of the various architects and the intricate details that adorn the facilities.
Of particular interest is the write ups of each of the books both from the perspective of old boys of the college, but also of the anecdotal evidence around the designs. The Assembly Hall, for one, is the inclusion of some rather enlightening aspects:
It even includes provision for setting up gymnastic competitions. In the early 1970s the hall was used to play movies on a Saturday night to keep the boarders entertained. These were ‘real’ movies on reels played on a projector. The competence of the boy appointed as the projectionist varied and more than once the reels were played in the wrong order, which of course spoiled any surprise ending.
Such anecdotes provide a running commentary throughout on the ways that the college utilised (then, and now) these magnificent buildings.
Overall, the proof of any good architecture is the way it is function and incorporated in the life and ethos of any given community or institution. Christ’s College have proven that through thoughtful construction and focused design, there is an opportunity to enhance any educational environment to its fullest potential. It is a testament to a college and its buildings that have truly stood the test of time.
Reviewer: Chris Reed
Quentin Wilson Publishing