28 FEB 2016

Mangatu Blocks Building – Gisborne

Gisborne might be known for it's untamed rural and seaside landscapes but it's also home to some impressive modern architecture and design.


Words and Photography by Dan Eagle

If you're visiting Gisborne it's probably to spend time at one of the stunning white sand beaches or boutique wineries that dot the country side. That was obviously first on our agenda but along the way we discovered some impressive local mid-century architecture and design.

One of the first buildings we encountered was the Mangatu Blocks Building. This very cool, brutalist style building was designed in 1972 by the talented Gisborne firm Glengary, Corson & Pilbrow. Jock Corson was the lead architect and his influence for this design is said to be inspired by contemporary South American architecture.

The building was designed for the Mangatu Blocks Incorporation which administrates the collective ownership, stewardship and leasing of local Maori land. The front of the building houses offices and an executive board room filled with impressive Maori carvings and decoration. At the rear there is a large double height hall for up to 250 shareholders.

While the exterior of the building is primarily cast concrete it has a memorable and enduring elegance. It reminded us of the inspired civic architecture we encountered in Palm Springs in the States. What we also loved was the grove of native forest to the back of the building which includes a large Kauri tree that is over 100 years old.

A view from the street

Front door with handles in native Rimu

An impressive entrance

Clean lines and sculptural cast concrete

A view from the back towards the meeting hall

A modern pendant lighting sculpture hangs from the double height roof

Even the back of the building is thoughtfully designed

The rear of the building is as refined as the front

Imposing concrete slabs form the walls of the meeting hall

Clean lines and interesting forms define every angle


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