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New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1985

Warehouse of ideas

page 66

Warehouse of ideas

page 67
Above in foreground from right: Pip Cheshire, Mal Bartleet and Pete Bossley.

Above in foreground from right: Pip Cheshire, Mal Bartleet and Pete Bossley.

Tucked into the narrow steep streets which form the light industrial area behind Victoria Park market is the Artifice Design Studio.

Three architects work there, each as a separate entity but with a shared commitment to accessibility and the direct approach.

They are Mal Bartleet, Pete Bossley and Pip Cheshire who have been working as a team for five years.

Their studio is a spacious, off-white, brick building which they share with a staff of six and two other businesses of related but different disciplines.

The feeling is of a warehouse. There are no individual offices, no closed doors. Each individual's work space is open, the drawing boards there to be seen. In the midst of this is a large conference table. A place to sit and talk feeling comfortable and private yet is surrounded by an intensity of work and ideas. "The use of a warehouse is intentional," said Pip Cheshire, "we are trying to get the feeling of a warehouse of ideas and abilities as well as a physical space."

The atmosphere is friendly, interesting and active. Light is reflected off the corrugated iron roof lining. The large timber trusses are painted green. The conduit system is orange and a huge kite and umbrella provide exciting decoration. The feeling is positive if unpredictable and the expectation of client involvement high.

Their building is the third that they have used and is the result of a long search within the confines of a very specific area. These architects live locally and do a great deal of work within the inner city. For them all, it is important to be a part of the movement and accessibility of the inner city suburbs without being in the centre of Queen Street. All three are scornfully derisive of the amorphous corporate personna that is muscling its mirrored passage down Queen Street reflecting power, money and the constraints of out-dated town planning.

Much of the work of these architects has been locally based and has provided them with a broad approach to design in addition to an historical perspective. Their present work includes both commercial and domestic briefs and their approach to this work is energetic and enhanced by the understanding they have learned through their work with older buildings.

The Artifice Design Studio reflects the philosophy of the architects. It and they are neither coy nor bashful. They are concerned with the alienation of the professions from the people and it is their intention to make themselves explicitly and directly approachable. In this they succeed.