Temperate modernity: the Whangārei architecture of Alfred Morgan in the 1930s

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Francis, Kerry
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Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
international modernism
Northland Polytechnic (Whangārei, N.Z.)
architecture education
Morgan, Alfred Percy (1893-1953)
New Zealand
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Francis, K.S. (2006). Temperate modernity: the Whangārei architecture of Alfred Morgan in the 1930s. C. McCarthy (Ed). "Pleasing homogeneity","dull times", and "animated cocktails": New Zealand Architecture in the 1930s. Wellington; Victoria University Centre for Building Performance Research.
This paper stems from my interest in how the ideas and forms of international modernism are translated to a local architectural context. In 2003 I was teaching the history of modernism to students studying for the National Diploma of Architectural Technology (NDAT) at Northland Polytechnic in Whangarei and looking for ways to engage these students who are in the main not academic. I gave them a project to research, record and present the dates of construction and names of the architects of the buildings in the main streets of Whangarei City. These records provided material that allowed us to discuss, with reference to a local context, the ideas and forms that were generated in other parts of the world. Their research highlighted the significant number of buildings in the central city area that had been designed by Alfred Morgan and more importantly that these buildings seemed to show a move from the Georgian roots of the earlier buildings towards a language of international modernism. This paper examines several 1930s Morgan designed buildings in Whangarei with emphasis on the Public Library, the Ayling Building and J.W.Court’s Building and uses these existing buildings and newspaper and magazine articles to illustrate this shift. It also outlines Morgan’s professional relationship with Horace Massey who was the associated architect on the Library project.
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