New Zealand Home & Building, October-November 1985
Diversity of outlook
Diversity of outlookpage break
Housed in the unlikely renovation of what was originally the Parnell fire station is the architectural, engineering and design practice of Fairhead, Sang and Carnachan. Their building has been exquisitely restored with the outside being as faithful to the original as possible. A strong, sculptural wall protects the occupants of the building from the irritation of the heavy traffic noise of Parnell Road while also giving the entrance to the building clear and resolute definition. Inside the wall is a garden which in itself provides a setting for large pieces of sculpture.
An elegant front door opens into a large reception area. There the clean lines and subtle colours provide a suitable background for the collection of New Zealand art which is displayed there. For this part of the building doubles as an art gallery for the frequent exhibitions held there and which in themselves reflect the diversity of outlook of this practice. A catholic approach to art is expressed by the pieces hung here. There are examples of painting, prints, pottery and weaving, all well lit and exhibited and all by New Zealand artists.
Fairhead, Sang and Carna-chan is a practice of architects, engineers and designers and it is necessary that aspects of all this work is, at least in part, expressed in this building.
The building, however, does not make a statement about architecture or design but is intended to be comfortable and to provide a cosy place in which to work. Its prime function is that of an office, a place to house a business rather than to advertise the talents of its owners.
It is, however, a response to a clean and simple architectural style. Theirs is a practical approach to the gradual changes that time will bring.
Parnell was chosen specifically as being central and yet without the problems of access that Queen Street brings. The partners also felt that it was important to bring people to a house rather than an office building and have chosen to do that in spite of the consequent zoning limitations.
The members of this practice believe that the work they do is its own best advertisement and that the office they use should be primarily easy to work in, rather than be used to influence clients. "There were many determining factors, and there has been the need for compromise," said Simon Carnachan, "but our hope is to be happy and housed in some style and comfort, and that that is able to be seen by our clients."
The resulting feeling expressed by these surroundings is one of quality, comfort and strength. It is a good place to be.