Architectural gold

HERITAGE ARCHITECT: Architect Jeremy Salmond takes a break for yet another photo after winning a prestigious award for his services to architecture.
Picture by Simon Wilson

For one not accustomed to the limelight, the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ award of gold medal for services to heritage and conservation architecture has thrust Jeremy Salmond into the spotlight. But he is passionate about his vocation and tells Mark Peters his story . . .

An arrangement of intervals that chime with one another is one of the governing principles of the design for award-winning architect Jeremy Salmond and Dame Anne’s Gisborne home.

The rhythms of the design might not be obvious to the untrained eye, and in parts of the house the arrangement might not even be visible.

“You understand what the systematic design feature of the original building is,” says Jeremy.

“Often it is repeated intervals, and rhythms; things intrinsic to the building.”

He clearly delights in this kind of esoterica and it is his passion for architecture and architectural design that this month earned him the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ gold medal for services to heritage and conservation architecture. For someone not accustomed to the limelight though, the award has been a mixed blessing. One interview or photoshoot follows another.
“It was an extraordinary thing,” he says.
“You accustom yourself to being the focus of attention which is not what you really like to be. What you can’t lose sight of are your colleagues. I know it’s a cliche but it’s enormously flattering.”
The opportunity to work with significant buildings that were built before he was born has been magical, he says. The nature of his work means he becomes engaged not only with a building’s design but its social history.

“A building itself is a document of its own history. You look into its nethermost parts. It’s challenging and hugely interesting.”

One of his favourite projects was restoration of Pompallier Printing House in Russell. Built in 1841, the pise de terre, compacted earth building is New Zealand’s third oldest European house.

“Pompallier House was constructed by Marist priests from France to print texts and other material so they could proselytise to Maori. The house had a tannery and a printing press.”

In 1940, the house was bought by the Government who sent in a team who rebuilt it to make it look “historical”.

“All change to a building is part of the building’s story, part of its history, but you have to make a calculation as to whether this change is as worth keeping as the original building,” he says.

“Then you make an evidence-based judgement.”

Mission buildings are important because of what they are and should not be changed, he says. Old buildings have community value, social worth, but also need to be used in a contemporary setting.

“I’m interested in change but you have to make good change. It’s an interesting design challenge. It should be clear what is the authentic, original building. We’re not looking back but looking forward. There’s a sense of obligation for the future.”

Jeremy’s love of heritage architecture includes a love of old, hand-drawn architectural drawings.

“All those lines were put there by an individual hand using tools that are unimaginable today,” he says.
“I rejoice in the line.”

He still prefers to draw by hand himself.

“I don’t regard myself as an artist but I’ve developed over the years a facility for drawing. I love the connection from the head, hand, and paper. I do a lot of conceptual stuff by hand. I’ll draw freehand on paper then put it into a computer and photoshop it.”

Despite his love of old-school draughtsmanship Jeremy has no objection to modern tools such CAD (Computer Assisted Drawing) though. In fact, he admires what younger architects can do.

“I’m astonished at some skills of the young. They can conceive of things that would have been inconceivable when I was a young man — and have them built. But I’m very comfortable in my time-space.”

Born in Dunedin and brought up in Gore, Jeremy always knew he would pursue architecture. His father was a lawyer but

Jeremy’s grandfather and uncle were both architects. To follow his vocation Jeremy had to go to Auckland to study — which is where he met his wife to be, Anne.

Six weeks after they met though, Anne disappeared to Pennsylvania for 18 months, says Jeremy. They wrote to each other every day and still have those letters.

“The daughter once found them and was slightly shocked. That’ll teach her.”

When Anne returned to New Zealand, Jeremy joined her in her doctorate field work, a study into the nature and protocols of hui. The work entailed visits to many marae.

“I’m a boy from Gore,” says Jeremy.

“I had virtually no experience of Maori life or culture but we began going to hui. Anne took her tape recorder and recorded the sounds of marae. I took my camera with a 200 millimetre lens. We always got approval to do it. That was a lesson in the warmth of people.”

The study led to Dame Anne’s first book, Hui. Jeremy has since enjoyed working on marae restoration.

“At Whangara Marae we restored two meeting houses and then worked on the bathroom, shower, then the wharekai. We have done this sort of work on many marae.”

He and Anne’s first trip overseas together took them to the United States where Anne presented her paper. They then flew to the United Kingdom where Jeremy worked at an architectural practice. By the time they got back to New Zealand the couple had a baby on the way, and within a year of their return they had bought “this lovely house” in Devonport, a 1904 villa.

“As an architect I became interested in the way it was and the why it was. That house was only 40 years older than me. I tried to research its history but could find no good information about it. Anne suggested I do a serious post-graduate study.

“I became preoccupied with how the form and details of these houses changed over time. Gisborne was one of my test places. In 1970 I began walking the streets and taking pictures. There is a lot of rich and varied architecture in Gisborne.”

The result of his research was a thesis based on the study of European houses called Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940.

On September 9 this year, Jeremy and Anne celebrated the 50th anniversary of their meeting at a university party in Auckland.

“It was love at first sight for me. It was that recognition thing: you know it’s important.

“It was lovely then and it has been lovely ever since.”

For one not accustomed to the limelight, the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ award of gold medal for services to heritage and conservation architecture has thrust Jeremy Salmond into the spotlight. But he is passionate about his vocation and tells Mark Peters his story . . .

An arrangement of intervals that chime with one another is one of the governing principles of the design for award-winning architect Jeremy Salmond and Dame Anne’s Gisborne home.

The rhythms of the design might not be obvious to the untrained eye, and in parts of the house the arrangement might not even be visible.

“You understand what the systematic design feature of the original building is,” says Jeremy.

“Often it is repeated intervals, and rhythms; things intrinsic to the building.”

He clearly delights in this kind of esoterica and it is his passion for architecture and architectural design that this month earned him the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ gold medal for services to heritage and conservation architecture. For someone not accustomed to the limelight though, the award has been a mixed blessing. One interview or photoshoot follows another.
“It was an extraordinary thing,” he says.
“You accustom yourself to being the focus of attention which is not what you really like to be. What you can’t lose sight of are your colleagues. I know it’s a cliche but it’s enormously flattering.”
The opportunity to work with significant buildings that were built before he was born has been magical, he says. The nature of his work means he becomes engaged not only with a building’s design but its social history.

“A building itself is a document of its own history. You look into its nethermost parts. It’s challenging and hugely interesting.”

One of his favourite projects was restoration of Pompallier Printing House in Russell. Built in 1841, the pise de terre, compacted earth building is New Zealand’s third oldest European house.

“Pompallier House was constructed by Marist priests from France to print texts and other material so they could proselytise to Maori. The house had a tannery and a printing press.”

In 1940, the house was bought by the Government who sent in a team who rebuilt it to make it look “historical”.

“All change to a building is part of the building’s story, part of its history, but you have to make a calculation as to whether this change is as worth keeping as the original building,” he says.

“Then you make an evidence-based judgement.”

Mission buildings are important because of what they are and should not be changed, he says. Old buildings have community value, social worth, but also need to be used in a contemporary setting.

“I’m interested in change but you have to make good change. It’s an interesting design challenge. It should be clear what is the authentic, original building. We’re not looking back but looking forward. There’s a sense of obligation for the future.”

Jeremy’s love of heritage architecture includes a love of old, hand-drawn architectural drawings.

“All those lines were put there by an individual hand using tools that are unimaginable today,” he says.
“I rejoice in the line.”

He still prefers to draw by hand himself.

“I don’t regard myself as an artist but I’ve developed over the years a facility for drawing. I love the connection from the head, hand, and paper. I do a lot of conceptual stuff by hand. I’ll draw freehand on paper then put it into a computer and photoshop it.”

Despite his love of old-school draughtsmanship Jeremy has no objection to modern tools such CAD (Computer Assisted Drawing) though. In fact, he admires what younger architects can do.

“I’m astonished at some skills of the young. They can conceive of things that would have been inconceivable when I was a young man — and have them built. But I’m very comfortable in my time-space.”

Born in Dunedin and brought up in Gore, Jeremy always knew he would pursue architecture. His father was a lawyer but

Jeremy’s grandfather and uncle were both architects. To follow his vocation Jeremy had to go to Auckland to study — which is where he met his wife to be, Anne.

Six weeks after they met though, Anne disappeared to Pennsylvania for 18 months, says Jeremy. They wrote to each other every day and still have those letters.

“The daughter once found them and was slightly shocked. That’ll teach her.”

When Anne returned to New Zealand, Jeremy joined her in her doctorate field work, a study into the nature and protocols of hui. The work entailed visits to many marae.

“I’m a boy from Gore,” says Jeremy.

“I had virtually no experience of Maori life or culture but we began going to hui. Anne took her tape recorder and recorded the sounds of marae. I took my camera with a 200 millimetre lens. We always got approval to do it. That was a lesson in the warmth of people.”

The study led to Dame Anne’s first book, Hui. Jeremy has since enjoyed working on marae restoration.

“At Whangara Marae we restored two meeting houses and then worked on the bathroom, shower, then the wharekai. We have done this sort of work on many marae.”

He and Anne’s first trip overseas together took them to the United States where Anne presented her paper. They then flew to the United Kingdom where Jeremy worked at an architectural practice. By the time they got back to New Zealand the couple had a baby on the way, and within a year of their return they had bought “this lovely house” in Devonport, a 1904 villa.

“As an architect I became interested in the way it was and the why it was. That house was only 40 years older than me. I tried to research its history but could find no good information about it. Anne suggested I do a serious post-graduate study.

“I became preoccupied with how the form and details of these houses changed over time. Gisborne was one of my test places. In 1970 I began walking the streets and taking pictures. There is a lot of rich and varied architecture in Gisborne.”

The result of his research was a thesis based on the study of European houses called Old New Zealand Houses 1800-1940.

On September 9 this year, Jeremy and Anne celebrated the 50th anniversary of their meeting at a university party in Auckland.

“It was love at first sight for me. It was that recognition thing: you know it’s important.

“It was lovely then and it has been lovely ever since.”

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