Thursday 22 July 2021

Roll on December

I don't know if it was wise, to site a dazzlingly colourful and architecturally crazy building right next to a big intersection with traffic lights and all - the distraction element will be immense - but still, I can't wait to see the Hundertwasser Art Centre in Whangārei completed.

From the outside, it's already looking close, though the official opening isn't till the end of the year. The mosaiced walls seem complete, there's planting been done, the cupola has been installed, and the men working on the curving and hilly swirling brick paths look nearly there. It is, and it's a rare thing to say about a building, exciting - and that must surely apply as much to the workers as us observers. How much fun they must be having, breaking all the rules, with scarcely a right angle to be seen anywhere! And they're allowed to exercise their own creativity within the overall design, which must be a delightful novelty.

I actually shouldn't be writing any of this - the whole thing is meant to be a great secret, apparently. The outside is screened all the way around (though people have poked holes) and the workmen aren't allowed to take any photos. That's because the building is considered, by the Hundertwasser Foundation in Vienna, an as yet unfinished work of art. (Friedensreich Hundertwasser, architect, moved to NZ in 1975 and died in 2000. This is his last project.) The installation of the golden cupola was naturally on national TV news, however. If I were a local, I might be a bit offended by the notice on the outside of the screen making it quite clear how well protected the gold leaf is, and that any attempt to remove it would render it worthless.

In the meantime, though, there's still a lot to enjoy along Whangārei's Town Basin. Water and boats are always a good start, but now there's an appealing Canopy Walk to view them from, as well as lots of inviting places to eat and drink, galleries, a place to watch glass blowing, a Clock Museum, shops and a playground that looks like good fun.

There's also, I discovered only afterwards, a Sculpture Trail along the river. Drat. That will have to wait till next time - which there certainly will be, and not just because of the Hundertwasser.

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