Levia book by Jeremy Hansen and Jed Keck. picture:


Levi, The new book The book by architect Roy Thomson (Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Porou; 1953-2016), edited by Jeremy Hansen and Jade Kaki, shows that an important contribution to architecture is not necessarily demonstrated by a large body of important buildings recognized by awards and publications. It can also be a legacy of conceptual shifts in thinking that lead to a change in practice and/or foster a new generation of practitioners in design and education. Levi He reveals this influence through autobiography, interviews, drawings and creative responses.

Because Thompson did not leave many buildings or writings, an account of him as a practitioner emerges from a series of interviews with about 30 clients, colleagues and students, as well as his daughter Lucy Thompson.

The interviews follow a loose chronological structure that traces the development of his practice: houses, multi-unit housing, civic and public realms, health and correctional facilities, educational buildings, exhibitions, speculative and unbuilt projects.

Thompson is consistently described as a humble, hardworking and talented individual with high personal integrity who valued and nurtured his personal and professional relationships and found inspiration in te ao Māori (Māori worldview/world) and whenua (land). Key projects noted in the interviews: the Thompson House in Kohimarama, the Wishart House in Hokianga, and the failed bid, with Frank Gehry and Ian Athfield, for a commission for the New Zealand Museum of Te Papa Tongarewa (what we really missed was the epic “Rewi Building”, not the “Geary Building”). .

Thompson’s home in Kohimarama in Auckland, photographed after Rewi’s death in 2016. picture:

David is straight

Thompson was clearly a talented architect and could have pursued a path to “hero architect” status, but he declined. Some interviewees discuss the impact of the 1987 stock market crash, personal loss, and illness on Thompson’s career. However, others see the release of the 1988 Mason Report as a turning point for Thompson, who, as a consulting engineer, incorporated tikanga Māori into the design of healthcare and corrections facilities, allowing them to become places of whānau support, healing and reconnection with the community. Aesthetic view.

In 2002, he was appointed to an adjunct position at the University of Auckland’s School of Architecture and Planning, which had recently been renamed ‘Te Pare’ after Thompson’s educational philosophy. Any dismay that Thompson was unable to complete more building work is offset by the end of the book with the realization that his genius directly impacted the lives of hundreds (if not thousands) of building users, clients, students, practitioners and workers in the field. teachers.

Conceptual layout of the buildings at the Northland District Correctional Facility. picture:

Architectural Archive, University of Auckland

Levi He also displays his prodigious talent for drawing, publishing several drawings which are now housed in the Auckland University Architectural Archive. There is a very developed working style, especially (as noted in some interviews) the ability to get through the most difficult moments of design: transforming an abstract concept into a buildable entity. The book does not fully explain the nature of this process or how it develops; This may require specific study of the archive.

Frequently asked question in Levi is whether Thompson saw himself as a “Maori architect” or not; He distanced himself from this definition earlier in his career. In the late twentieth century, self-identification may also have been too restrictive in professional terms, as is pointed out in the book. In his interview, friend and colleague Mike Barnes gave the most frank account of Thompson’s taha Māori (Māori identity), noting that “we are all in our own place in our Māori journey”. However, history bestows these designations on individuals, and history will remember Thompson as a Māori architect within the ever-evolving story of Māori-made architecture.

The conceptual underpinnings of Te Papa’s proposal and its narrative links with Te Ao Māori. picture:

Architectural Archive, University of Auckland

The final sections of the book are gems. In one, mysterious drawings found in Thompson’s archives inside a folder labeled “KOHA” were sent by the editors to the writers Samuel T. Kani and Gina Cole, and to the poet Isa Mai Ranapiperi, “to live in the worlds of Rewi and give a written account.” . The results are surprising. Thompson’s own interpretations of his design philosophy as published in the magazine New Zealand architect And the book Now look listen! Reprinted in another section.

The book concludes with 65 pages of selected drawings: a rich visual collection from which we can draw our own conclusions. This is a fitting end to an inspiring book about an important architect with a story told in an imaginative way.

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