Our previous post was all about the glorious polystyrene and digital fabrications of Weta Workshop and the mind of Sir Peter Jackson. Yes, we do love a good hobbit adventure, and yes, I’m thinking that in some ways the architecture in the three LOTR films far surpasses nearly everything our city has built IRL.

But, there comes a time when one has to wake up In Real Life, and then the plain truth is that the real life architecture of WW and SPJ as seen here in the actual real Hobbiton-on-Sea is, well… not that great at all.

Here’s the concrete box of a Wingnut films sound set. I’m…. unimpressed. Am I allowed to even think bad things about their (lack of) architectural merit, or does that automatically make me an evil fish? (thank you David P…).

Of course the plain simple truth is that the massive concrete sound stages and sound-deadening concrete boxes of Stone Street Studios are as dull as ditchwater, unless you prefer their plain, simple modern lines in preference to the wonderful structural expression of the new Indoor Sports Centre – not that everybody does, of course. Our frequent correspondent m-d thinks that the ISC stands out like a massively sore thumb: “I have to say that I am absolutely appalled by this creation.” But many others may think that this deathly dull concrete box deserves more of a raspberry than the ISC.
But then again, the ISC stands on “…Cobham drive, with its harbour views and celebrated sculpture series, [which] might be considered a key processional route into Wellington – offering the first glimpses of what it is that makes this city special (harbour/hills/etc) – you know, that thing we call ‘sense of place’. How to destroy that possibility in one ill-conceived stroke.” Meanwhile of course, this concrete box, along with its equally ugly brother, is an example of pure form follows function – when you’re smack bang next to the airport, you might need a few hundred mm of solid concrete to deaden the noise of the passing jets. Inside, of course, it can be anything you want it to – seen here in the guise of King Kong:

So does Form follows Function mean Modern Movie Master? I suspect not – it only gets away with it because it is somehow tucked away down a swathe of side streets in the home of the Miramar / Gondorian rangers.

The Park Road Post headquarters is more interesting – a very Wrightianesque design, if I may be so bold. I’ve never swum inside the portals of course – you have to be movie gold to get in here. Its all a far cry from the early days of the tumbledown Camperdown Studios and the old insect-infested sheds of Weta – which, I hope for the friends of mine that work inside, are being renovated ready for the next 2 year stint of rendering and shading. Because, that is really what the architecture is all about – the maquettes, the animalalians, the Grodborts of the world, waiting for Tintin to finish and the Hobbit to start.

So what about this? Is a wall of containers even more justifiable then, screening off magic in progress from our prying eyes? When the filming is actually on, they arise on various Wellington promontories, film sections from Skull Island and Helm’s Deep, and then are dissembled again. That’s a 1-2 year building typically, so if it is crap as an outlook, at least it will be gone before too long. That’s a lot more than we can hope for on some of the ‘architecture’ being assembled in Wellington.

But how much more exciting does the massive expanse of containers seem, knowing, as we do, that on the reverse we have a green backdrop on which we will one day have digital wonderlands…