Last year architect Andrew Patterson’s firm, Patterson Associates Ltd, was named by World Architecture News as one of five worldwide “set to influence global architecture.” I recently caught up with Andrew to see what is buzzing on his radar right now, and to get a better understanding of the genesis of his unique approach to design.
“Well Frankfurt Book Fair really excites me,” says Andrew.
The artist's impression of the New Zealand Pavilion.
Frankfurt Book Fair is the world’s largest intellectual property event and Aotearoa New Zealand is the 2012 Guest of Honour with more than 60 New Zealand authors chosen to represent at the event.
“The Country of Honour gets to design the centerpiece of the fair and we’re creating a pattern model of New Zealand,” beams Andrew. “We’ve flooded the space with water - and we’ve put an island in the middle connected to the rest of the fair with causeways. And above it is a starry sky.”
Andrew tells me he grew up with a lot of Māori influence, but that his breakthrough emerged when he was lucky enough at a young age to come into some money and bought property in New Zealand’s Northland. The land had over a kilometre of coastline with two private beaches on it, the stuff dreams are made of.
“I’d never be able to afford it now. You know the Russian, Abramov? The one that’s been in the news…” Andrew pauses, I confirm. “He’s my neighbour.” And we both chuckle.
On beach was the site of a Ngāti Wai Village and Pā, its Maori name; Taiwawe is a word play meaning both “where the tide is always right”, and “the first tide of people settled here.” Andrew tells me it’s extremely beautiful, and highly defendable. The property has about forty historic place archaeological sites and was first occupied around the 14th century.
Andrew had been European trained, which focuses a lot on space, permanence, commodity and light, but says it was Taiwawe that helped him start thinking about a whole different paradigm from western architecture.
So how important is cultural philosophy compared to design?
To answer Andrew cited creation stories influence on design. He says that the medium and the purpose of architecture is to improve land and in western spiritual culture God made the planet on the first day and on the seventh day he separately created man. But if the purpose of architecture is to create places for people, consider the Pacific concept of belonging. This is communicated in its creation parable: the story of two entities, Earth Mother and Sky Father who were locked in a sensual embrace. The first people were the product of that coupling and that has implications. In Polynesia there is no distinction between the natural and the man-made.
“It’s a basic frame for thinking in a different way about people’s relationship to the planet,” says Andrew. “And so that attitude to land is a huge philosophical change; from thinking about land as an object in a western sense, to thinking about it as an identity and process in a Polynesian sense.”
Andrew Patterson, 100% Pure.