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Architects want Urewera building saved

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 21/08/2016

A 40-year-old visitor centre earmarked for demolition in Te Urewera National Park is a unique and increasingly recognised building that deserves to be saved, architects say.

The New Zealand Institute of Architects is appealing for a reprieve for the 1976 Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre.

But the Department of Conservation is standing by what it says is a reluctant decision.

The building, which was commissioned by the Department of Conservation, was designed by John Scott, a pioneer Maori architect whose work is increasingly recognised, according to Institute of Architects president Christina van Bohemen.

"Aniwaniwa is a unique building designed by a unique architect for a unique place," she said.

"It strongly expresses some of the defining characteristics of John Scott's architecture: concern for the land, a sensitive approach to site, and an innovative fusion of modern architecture and Maori building and design traditions."

Ms van Bohemen criticised the department for failing to maintain the building and using poor conditions as justification for its destruction.

"If there is a will, there are ways to restore Aniwaniwa and find a use for it," Ms Bohemen said.

A DOC spokesman told NZ Newswire the centre, which was closed in 2008 after being deemed unsafe by engineers, has always been difficult to maintain because of its weather tightness issues and earthquake susceptibility.

"DOC is mindful of the heritage and cultural values of the building and is currently working with Tuhoe and the Te Urewera Board to ensure that these, along with salvageable materials are incorporated into the new Wharehou," he said.

A new Warehou on the shores of Lake Waikeremoana would include visitor facilities.

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