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Tuesday Chew: Architect Ian Seddon on being inspired by Paris (the man)

One of New Zealand’s great men of architecture lives on in Ian Seddon who was inspired by his mentor, the flamboyant Paris Magdalinos during the quarter of a century they worked together. 

Who the heck are you? 

I’m a registered architect with Paris Magdalinos Architects in Napier. I’ve been associated with Paris Magdalinos—the man—for about 24 years now. I’ve had the joy and pleasure of being on a journey with him for a long time. During this time, I’ve also helped developed the practice to what it’s become today. 

What do you enjoy most about the work? 

The fact we design everything from letter boxes through to multi-storey buildings. We now do a reasonable amount of commercial work with houses as well. I enjoy every aspect of the work. That’s what I like most about working here. We currently have some house alterations on the go as well as commercial work throughout New Zealand. 

What inspires you?

Paris has been a mentor during my time here. Being of Greek orientation, he treated the business as part of his family and he instilled in me a great passion for architecture and a desire to create better spaces. His Greek influence is apparent – especially in colour as a strong aspect of the design. 

But there are many others along the path that have influenced me. For example Frank Lloyd Wright and the way he thought through specific details and features of the homes he designed, everything from the structure to the furniture. That’s something PMArchitects employs as well. We’re strong on the aspect of design detail.

Then there are the Australian architects that I look up to—like Glenn Murcutt and practices like Denton Corker Marshall, now one of the world’s leading design practices with many great buildings. I love their amazing Civil Justice Centre in Manchester. 

Civil Justice Centre in Manchester

There are many others – the well-known Mr Athfield—I like the way he has evolved. Architecture is always changing and moving forward. That’s why Ian does very well as he continues to evolve whether that’s through technology or people’s changing needs and environment. 

I’m also inspired by everyday people —on a local, regional and national level. It can be the guy you meet at the service station. Something they do can influence you in small ways. When someone has a piece of input that’s included in your architecture, it can make an amazing difference. It’s all part of the everchanging architecture industry where you meet so many amazing people. 

What are you best known for? 

I guess Paris Magdalinos Architects is known for the strength of its design, combined with colour and strong detail. One of our best known projects is McLean Park Grandstand completed in 1984 where the columns have red glass veins at the top – it’s strong imagery representing the red veins of the players on the field. Recently it’s the Hastings Court House and the Christchurch Airport Control Tower which was one of Paris’ final projects— needless to say—it’s still standing. Our work spans a variance of design influences. 

Christchurch Airport Control Tower

Tell me about some of the challenges involved in designing the Hastings Courthouse? 

The project evolved over many years of discussion with a large number of stakeholders. Several different scenarios and various sites were considered. The decision to place the courthouse alongside the existing facility, allows the building to be oriented toward the Civic Centre while facilitating the important connection to the Police precinct to the rear. 

It’s located close to the historic CBD, surrounded by a mixture of contemporary 1950s architecture and the concrete Police Station. Free from historical reference the new development pursues a contemporary agenda, referencing the materials and scale of the surrounding built environment.  

It enhances and complements the streetscape, defining the street boundary with a bold civic statement that participates with its surroundings. 

How is the architecture expressed? 

The secured glazed entrance foyer is defined by an extruded blade wall which rises above the building’s facade to articulate a distinctive civic presence anchoring adjacent glazed facade sections that make up the public galleries. The transparency continues through to the glazed stairwells to create a visually interactive connection to the building’s vertical circulation with the street. 

The main public areas combine natural, environmentally selected materials and filtered natural light. Clearly defined glazed vertical circulation spaces connect public areas without posing security issues. 

The architectural elements that define the ground floor public space continue through to the first floor. The natural light levels through the glazed curtain walls are controlled by fixed sunscreens which supplement the artificial light levels that are controlled by light level sensors. The floor, ceilings and walls define access routes and egress paths, reducing confusion and emphasizing courtroom entries. 

Why is it successful? 

The ability to allow separation for the judges, court staff, police, prisoners and the public yet let them interact sets its own challenges. We’ve overcome this to create a very operational building. I’ve had some very good reports about it from those who use it. 

Your favourite café? 

The Hub Bike shop along Heretaunga Street in Hastings—great coffee and a good environment full of bikes. We sat out the back and talk bikes with our great Rocket coffee. Then there’s Bay Espresso between Clive and St Georges Rd Corner which has its own special character. 

Your dream commission? 

Every commission is important as it creates a new opportunity with clients. Every client has their own quirky wants and needs which create their own challenges and excitement. It’s a chance to create a special environment that they will enjoy.

Ohiti residence, Hawkes Bay

Interior of Band at Ahuriri, Napier