The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

New Zealand super chic

Great note in the post today from a friend whose father was an architect :  “found this is my dad’s junk pile from back in the day when he looked like something out of “Mad Men”—and with it comes a copy of the brochure from the opening of New Zealand House from May 1963 (office building, incorporating New Zealand High Commission, designed by Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall and Partners, now listed).

It’s got wonderful black and white photos  of crisp elevations and immaculate interiors

I’m especially interested to see the myth of “maintenance free materials” confidently given an outing, and the fact that one aim of the scheme was to provide a new lease of life for the adjacent Royal Opera Arcade (by John Nash 1816).   Also like the fact that the site became available because its predecessor , the super fashionable Edwardian Carlton Hotel, never recovered from the “shock and overwork” caused by having to postpone all the  events planned there to mark the coronation  of its star patron Edward VII     (he had appendicitis and it got put back from 26 June  to 9 August 1902).   Apparently Edward was lucky not to die—the  surgery to drain his appendix was pioneering .  Loads of court cases brought by people who were left out of pocket by postponement and one (Krell v Henry) resulted in a change in contract law. Mr Henry had agreed to hire a flat to give him a good  view of procession going by.   With no procession , he refused to pay. The judge ruled that the flat had been rented out for the sole purpose of watching the coronation, so the cancellation made the contract impossible to fulfil. Apparently this way of ending a contract is known as frustration.  None of that’s in the brochure, but I read it here


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