Author(s): Julia Gatley
"We know there is another way of living in which a house is logically contrived for peace and comfort, where the sun brings life without faded carpets, and in which leisure and beauty are not interred in respectable museums. And we mean to find it for ourselves and make it real to everyone who feels as we do ...Because we want this in New Zealand, overseas solutions will not do. New Zealand must have its own architecture, its own sense of what is beautiful and appropriate to our climate and conditions." So wrote a precocious bunch of second-year Auckland architecture students in 1946, establishing themselves as the Architectural Group. They resurfaced several years later as Group Architects, in time becoming one of our most celebrated and enduringly influential architectural practices. Julia Gatley's Group Architects: Towards a NZ Architecture is the first full assessment of the firm and follows the Group and their work from the early collective through all its various incarnations until the death of founder Bill Wilson in 1968. The Group are best known for their houses. Often timber, with open-plan interiors, these were, the Group claimed, houses 'built for local conditions' - suitable for our temperate climate and informal ways of living. But the Group also produced shops and offices, factories and kindergartens, and the book presents these and many other building types they worked on, illustrated with redrawn floor plans, archival shots and new photographs of the buildings. Brilliantly illustrated and engagingly written, Group Architects uncovers the history and debunks the myths surrounding a firm that has become synonymous with New Zealandness in architecture.
Dr Julia Gatley is a graduate of Victoria University of Wellington and the University of Melbourne and is currently a Senior Lecturer in the School of Architecture and Planning at The University of Auckland. Her critically acclaimed book, Long Live the Modern: New Zealand's New Architecture, 1904-1984 (AUP, 2008) encourages the heritage recognition of New Zealand's modern architecture.