Tributes paid to New Zealand architect Sir Ian Athfield

Tributes paid to New Zealand architect Sir Ian Athfield

Recently knighted New Zealand architect Sir Ian Athfield has died.

Sir Ian, 74, passed away in Wellington, after unexpected complications during surgical procedures to treat cancer.

He was made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to architecture in the recent UK New Year’s honours.

Regarded as a maverick in his younger days, he came to be widely admired for his pioneering and often provocative style, underpinned by a belief that a building’s place in its natural environment was critical.

Sir Ian’s work is prominent in Wellington, from the Civic Square and the Wellington Library, to the Wellington Overseas Passenger Terminal redevelopment and his fairy-tale style homes dotted around the capital’s suburbs.

His villa home, which clings to the hill overlooking a motorway, has also become something of an icon.

As one of the country’s leading designers he was appointed architectural ambassador for the Christchurch City Council, providing design advice and co-ordination for the rebuild following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

“It is with heavy hearts that the Athfield family announces the passing this morning of Ath, a treasured and respected husband, father and grandfather,” the family said in a statement.

“He loved to bring people together and would have enjoyed people gathering and sharing memories at this time, the statement says.

“Although he had not been in good health recently, his sudden passing was unexpected and has had a great impact on those who knew and loved him.”

The President of the New Zealand Institute of Architects, Pip Cheshire, said Sir Ian “continually thought about, critiqued and provoked society on the way they lived, either in individual houses, towns or cities.”

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