My Favourite Building: City Gallery Wellington director Elizabeth Caldwell

Article by Home Magazine
Elizabeth Caldwell. Photograph by Russell Kleyn.

Elizabeth Caldwell admires a building from Deco’s heyday. Photograph by Russell Kleyn.


“I wanted to pick the building I work in, but that seemed like cheating! So, I’ve chosen the Wellington Free Ambulance Building, a similarly stylish Art Deco structure designed by William Turnbull and built in 1933. It served the ambulance service for nearly 60 years and is now St. John’s bar and restaurant. I’ve always enjoyed the geometric forms and symmetrical arrangements of Art Deco’s formal elements. There is something deeply soothing and aesthetically pleasing about the sense of order and balance to be found in the vertical and horizontal lines dominating their façades, with just enough decorative flourish to keep them lively and interesting. St. John’s has all these qualities, including an elegance of proportion that distinguishes it from other Wellington buildings of the period. Art Deco represented luxury, glamour, exuberance and a belief in progress of all kinds, characteristics often appropriate for the organisations occupying buildings from this time today.”

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