In 1946 a group of students and idealists got together to realize their visions for a modern city. Over the following half century, the Architectural Centre they founded helped shape the possibilities of modern life in urban New Zealand and profoundly influenced the remaking of the capital city of Wellington. More than just an association of architects, the Centre furthered education, published a magazine—Design Review—hosted modernist exhibitions in its gallery, staged an audacious campaign for political influence called “the Project,” and fought for better planning, better design, and better built environments in Wellington. Charting these activists and their projects over the years, Julia Gatley and Paul Walker also offer a history of urban Wellington from the 1940s to the 1990s and beyond.
The book reminds us that, in modernist ideology, architecture and urban planning went hand-in-hand with visual and craft arts, graphic and industrial design. In recovering the multidisciplinary history, politics, and planning of the Architectural Centre, Gatley and Walker begin writing the city back into the history of architecture in New Zealand.