Above: Pip Cheshire with models of Rhubarb Lane aPods
Pip Cheshire, of Cheshire Architects can't quite remember which way the building blocks that symbolise the aPods (living and working spaces) in his newly designed building for Rhubarb Lane piece together. But it doesn't matter because since these blocks were made, the building itself has become simpler, allowing for larger aPods and greater living spaces. His building design for Rhubarb Lane (an inner city Auckland development that's called on the skills of five prominent architects to design its aPods) was inspired by the concept of a bach within the city. He explains, 'the city bach is directed at active people who divide their week between the city, the coast and the mountains...Many now see the country as home, their urban house as becoming a bach within the city. Our building allows for people to make the most of the inner city and still live a relaxed informal life connected to the outdoors.' Since its initial design phase the building has developed further to include double-height windows, expansive living areas in a loft-type environment, resulting in each of the apartments feeling as though they would be right at home in the heart of Manhattan.
We sat down with Pip to find out more about his design influences.
Above: The interior of the Cheshire designed aPods (living and working environments) in Auckland's Rhubarb Lane.
1. Canterbury Cloisters
Above: Canterbury cloisters
I spent ten years being educated within the cloisters and quadrangles of Mountfort, Seagar, Wood and co and they still set the bar for serious building – a great collection of contained outdoor spaces with layered and carefully modulated transitions into soaring halls, dark passageways, high lantern windows and the quiet of stone walls.
2. The Green Room
Above: a green room
A place rarely visited, probably more in the imagination these days, but it's the holy grail out in the water: a second of water folding overhead, then gone, no trace. It is so ephemeral, the right tide, the right wind, the right swell, the right reef - an instinctive reflexive action so different from the carefully analysed business of architecture.
3. The Alhambra, the Brioni cemetery and a hundred other gems
Above from top to bottom: Brioni cemetery by Carlo Scarpa in Italy, the Alhambra in Granada, Spain.
I love the thrill of the hunt with a notebook full of possible destinations, no time constraints and a filling sketch book. The buildings are invariably smaller and denser than I anticipate and there is always a reaffirmation of how many senses are in play when things get serious - the sound of crows at Brioni, the smell of the railway yards at Basel and the tilted floor plane at Ronchamp.
4. Stephen Bambury's Art
Above: Artwork by Stephen Bambury in Pip Cheshire's Auckland office.
Stephen Bambury's intense practice is founded on rigorous research and gives rise to paintings and sculptures that exhaustively mine colour, texture and shape to reveal fine degrees of leverage that too often get lost in the plethora of exigencies we deal with.
5. Ink and Watercolour
Above top to bottom: Ink photography by Shinichi Maruyama, Pip Cheshire's own working drawings of Rhubarb Lane.
The moment when the pen, or the tide of water colour pushed by a brush, touches the page is a moment of revelation and magic - one knows that the brain is connected to the brush but there's another whole presence down on the paper surface. Is that really what I was thinking?
I'm blessed - the counselor, the architect, the diplomat and the tattoo artist, all keeping me on the straight and narrow.
7. Four extraordinary places to visit
The Scott tent, the Bedouin tent, the penthouse and the fale. What a carbon footprint!
Above: Books from Pip Cheshire's library in his Auckland office
It's a delicate balance that drives architecture along; the power of the intellect and the passion of the senses. A few good texts manage to bring these together with a clear voice free of jargon that help us understand the mysteries of our art.
For more information on the Rhubarb Lane aPods go here.
To contact Pip Cheshire go here.