Fins, Fins + more Fins.

On February 28, 2012 by Eye on Auckland

Victoria Street West – fin central ?

You may have heard this mentioned – “Auckland is a one trick pony”. Judging by some of the contemporary architecture (which I feel is already outdated) I am starting to agree. Two new buildings have emerged from fields of waste in Victoria Street West and another is receiving a much needed facelift. You will notice that they all seem to be copies of each other (with slight variations) and they all feature fins. Surely our local architects have the imagination to be more adventurous. Why are they so afraid of colour and afraid to experiment ? Most of us will agree that we are living in a decade where we demand vibrancy, excitement and surprise. They say that the old and conservative Auckland is gone and I am starting to see evidence of this but not when it comes to architecture. Our architects / developers are playing it too safe – broaden your horizons and sell it to the client – that is what good designers do. Push the boundaries and dream big !


162 Victoria Street West

Telecom Place

At 200 Victoria Street West, Mainzeal are refurbing a rather old and weary looking building which will become Mainzeal House.

Mainzeal House - 200 Victoria Street West

Arc en Ciel in Bordeaux, France (by Bernard Buhler) is a classic example of how an architect can push the boundary and create something far more interesting than adding fins. Mainzeal House could be more colourful and way more adventurous, a gateway, but instead we have what we have – something safe, something mediocre. Maybe one day things will progress. We can only hope.

Arc en Ciel by Bernard Buhler.

8 Responses to “Fins, Fins + more Fins.”

  • Shaun

    I agree with you. Why is the colour palette so dreary, it seems to be inspired by a crappy day in the middle of winter! As for the fins what a yawn give us some other shapes and textures. I guess the fins are a Manson TCLM thing.

  • Matt

    The Mainzeal building looks a lot like the Geyser building in Parnell which also has lots of fins. I agree wholeheartedly, we need funky architecture and definitely more colour.

  • James B

    While I have no problem specifically with fins. I do think they are sometimes used as the proverbial lipstick on a pig. The thinking seems to be make a box, then to break it up so it doesn’t look like a box chuck some fins on it.

  • Suffrage

    I love the renders provided. It goes to show that we need to up our game and stop playing it safe.

  • Nicole

    Good point. We do seem to be moving to fin overdose. Don’t the Deloitte building and Ernst Young building have them too.

  • Mr Samsa

    Those top 2 are Architectus buildings and along with their finned 152 Fanshawe St are auto NZIA award winners – it’s probably some sort blasphemy to suggest these buildings less than perfect.

  • Geoff Houtman

    I had a coffee with a leading architect lately. He admitted that NZ Architecture had lost it’s way for the last 30 years.

    I didn’t agree with much of what he said, but this hit the nail right on the head.

    Your point about the fins is a good one. Our new architecture is so drab and samey I can barely look at it. It’s either grey, grey or grey- (shared spaces) or doesn’t “work” (K Rd overbridge- used to have a harbour view and sun and rain protection, now no view, no protection).

    We need a “movement” of some sort so badly. Pacific Deco? Something is needed urgently…

  • I find it extraordinary that I should have to point this out to you lot: the fins are not there for decoration.
    The main reason that you are seeing, and will continue to see, a proliferation of external fins on buildings, is to provide external shading to the facade, and thereby reduce the solar heat loading. That honestly is the number one reason they are there.
    The tricky bit thereafter becomes the reason a lot of them look similar – there are only so many different ways that you can fin a building. It needs to be horizontal fins if it is facing north, and mainly vertical on the east and west sides. It needs to fix to the mullions and transomes. It needs to not be too big, or it will exert too much wind load on the mullion. If it is too small, it won’t do the job of shading.
    You are right about the colour though. No reason to limit that choice of colour in NZ!

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