Te hoahoa me te hanga whare o Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington's architecture and building heritage
Other heritage topics
The architecture of our city is a reflection of our history over the past 150 years. From simple wooden houses, to streamlined Art Deco housing blocks, to the curves and vibrant colours of post-modern architecture - in Wellington you can find examples of almost every major architectural style of the last 150 years.
Our city is in a state of continual transition and transformation with different architectural styles coming into and falling out of fashion. Sometimes buildings which were at the cutting edge of design when they were constructed, look tired and dated only two or three decades later. Yet occasionally the same buildings become celebrated as a new generation begins to recognise them for their innovative architecture and heritage values.
Sometimes this recognition comes too late and it has resulted in our city losing many architectural treasures in the name of "progress". A cry of protest may arise as a developer's plans are revealed, but many buildings have been demolished without being publicly mourned. Some exist only as tantalising images in period photographs - leaving the viewer to wonder how different our city might have looked had they survived.
Some of our buildings may at first glance seem ordinary but on digging a little deeper, layers of social history gradually reveal themselves. Some can only be fully appreciated if they are viewed in context of the era in which they were built - what may seem normal to the point of banality today could have been a revolutionary shift in building design at the time.
At its best, architecture can be seen as public art - always on display for us to enjoy. Like other forms of art, changes in architectural styles can mirror how we have developed as a nation. Early Wellington architecture simply replicated what was happening in Britain and America. Slowly European and 'International' styles were added to the mix and gradually these different forms were adapted to our physical and social environment until a true 'vernacular' style of New Zealand architecture emerged.
Wellington City Libraries has a large and popular collection of material about Wellington's built heritage and architecture.