Tuesday, May 18, 2010

An Architectural Moment in History

I'm not going to write too much here today about Christchurch's spectacular Old Provincial Council Buildings - I've done all that before and you can read more about the history of the building by clicking on Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings in the label line below this post. Suffice to say it is one of my favourite Christchurch buildings
I went in there again recently to play with my new camera and while there were plenty of photographic failures on my part, I was reminded again of the beauty of the place, the quietness (except when tribes of school kids come in on a class trip) and the sense that you've stepped back in time, or perhaps been transported away to England.
Between 1853 and 1876, New Zealand was governed under the provincial system, which began as a 12-member council and a separately elected Superintendent. The first meeting of the Canterbury Provincial Council was held on September 27, 1853 on the site that now houses the nearby Cathedral Grammar Buildings. These Provincial Council Buildings were built between 1853 and 1865, to a design by architect, Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort. When the Council ceased in 1876, the offices were used as offices by various Government departments. These days, the rabbits' warren is home to a wide variety of offices, including a number of architects. You can wander the silent stone corridors, wondering what might be behind all the closed doors - and on the right day at the right time, you can get inside the magnificent end chamber, which I have shown in photographs in my previous post.

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