Unbuilt Sixties: The Unsuccessful Entries in the Christchurch Town Hall Competition


  • Ian Lochhead University of Canterbury




Contests in architecture


The completion of the Christchurch Town Hall in 1972 marked the end of a process which had begun in 1964 with a national competition, the largest and most prestigious of the post-war era in New Zealand and one of the major architectural events of the 1960s. Although Warren and Mahoney's winning design has assumed a prominent place in New Zealand architecture, unsuccessful designs by among others, Pascoe & Linton; Lawry & Sellars; Austin, Dixon & Pepper; Gabites & Beard and Thorpe, Cutter, Pickmere, Douglas & Partners, are virtually forgotten. These designs deserve to be better known since they offer an invaluable insight into the range of architectural approaches being employed during the mid sixties. Standing apart from the short listed designs is Peter Beaven's more widely published entry, which was singled out by the jury as being especially meritorious. The paper will examine unrealised designs for the Christchurch Town Hall in the context of contemporary attitudes towards concert hall and civic centre design. Approaches ranged from the Miesian international modernism of Lawry and Sellars to the sculptural forms of Beaven's proposal in which influences as diverse as Aalto, Scharoun and Mountfort are strikingly integrated. The paper will also assess Warren and Mahoney's unbuilt civic centre design within the framework of the competition entries as a whole. Such unbuilt designs constitute an important, but largely invisible part of the architecture of the 1960s and deserve to be re-inscribed within in the history of the period.


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2021-03-16 — Updated on 2005-10-03


How to Cite

Lochhead, I. (2005). Unbuilt Sixties: The Unsuccessful Entries in the Christchurch Town Hall Competition. Architectural History Aotearoa, 2, 23–31. https://doi.org/10.26686/aha.v2i0.6708 (Original work published March 16, 2021)