22 February 2007

Len Lye, Kylie Minogue, the Red Cross, and a broken thermostat.

Peter Peryer's recent post on the launch of the friends of Len Lye and New Plymouth's impending Len Lye centre, reminded me of a brief association I had with the Regent and neighbouring Red Cross Buildings that are likely to be demolished to make way from the Centre.

Several years ago, returning from taking Australian artist Kathy Temin to the airport, following the installation of her great work My Kylie Collection, my car decided to overheat in a fairly dramatic (and later expensive) fashion. As I was living 20 minutes drive out of town at the time, this presented something of a commuting problem.

My first solution was to seek alternate accommodation for the 3+ weeks the car took to be fixed. A chance encounter with the owner of the Regent and Red Cross buildings later that day resulted in a guided tour of some of the empty office space in the Red Cross Building - immediately behind the Regent Building pictured by Peter. The upstairs comprised of a number of small office spaces, lavishly wood pannelled, with a modernist-lite stairwell, and lots of potential. While the showering and kitchen facilites were shared, I think it would have worked well. I even rushed off and designed a contempoary stand-alone living unit/island, incorporating bed, lounge, dining, kitchen and wardrobe, that would sit within the space and not intrude on those beautiful wood-pannelled walls. Pictured above.

As it turned out I was able to borrow a car from my sister for a while, and bike to work on occasion, removing the need for inner city living, but the Red Cross building still has a very fond place in my heart. While I recognise a need for Len Lye to be presented in a dedicated contemporary space, it seems a shame to lose more great buildings from our past, in a city that doesn't have a particularly strong record of protecting it's old architecture.

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