17A POWELL STREET, AVONDALE, AUCKLAND
Making places and working on buildings is for me a never-ending process. First I built a home near the Manukau Harbour. Then I built an office-studio next to the house, for my architectural practice. I was able to buy a bach in the Waitakere Ranges—just a one-room hut with virtually no facilities, but wonderful isolation near the entrance of the Manukau Harbour. It has been a struggle to preserve it from vandalism, but it’s now in good shape. I also owned a tiny island in the upper Harbour, but lacked time and means to effect an experimental communal bach-building project on it. A move to Opanuku Road in the Ranges, had me living in a garage while building a ’handmade’ house (with no power tools). Active for years in the Waitakere Ranges Protection Society. In 1986 I moved back to the suburbs—Avondale. In 1995 I went to UK ‘for one year’, and stayed seven. Helped a N.Z. friend fix up a row of five stone cottages in West Yorkshire near the Pennines. Currently fixing up the old house, the shed, and the sleepout, at Avondale.
the grading and packing shed
GAPS aptly stands for the grading and packing shed. It’s a good, simple building made of beautiful totara. In it, in the past, using rudimentary machinery, tomatoes were graded and packed, for health and enjoyment. Now it’s a rustic unpretentious place for assessing and expressing ideas that stimulate and sustain life. It is a simple venue, and quite easily accessible.
The Shed is the home base for events. It has the main gathering place and facilities. A bedroom and two lofts may be available for people who might wish to stay casually. There’s a wood-burning stove, but for winter meetings I recommend people wear warm clothing.
The original old house is in front of the shed. The first part was built around 1905. It has a certain charm of neglect, maybe. As I work on it I am surprised and delighted to see how it was built. It would never pass the building consents requirements now. There are generous areas (by current norms) of lawn and abandoned garden, with trees and a sense of tranquillity.
People attending talks and various events are welcome to enjoy the place. Some may like to visit at odd times to take time out to meditate, read a book from the collection here, or talk with someone else. Students can drop in and make use of the place to have some quietness to think or discuss things, including academic issues.
It’s 10 minutes walk from Avondale train station. Also close to several bus routes.
Parking is available for up to 6 visitor cars within the site -- otherwise on Powell Street, or Himikera Avenue.