The historic Parnell Baths are still swimming in retro glamour

Built over 100 years ago and inspired by the lidos of Britain, Auckland’s Parnell Baths are an architectural snapshot in time


The historic Parnell Baths are still swimming in retro glamour 

When planning a Palm Springs-inspired shoot, the Your Home and Garden team needed to find a location that evoked retro poolside glamour. Auckland’s Parnell Baths, with its more than 100-year history, was the perfect fit. The team styled two summer scenes at the Baths; one inspired by the Californian resort city of Palm Springs, and one celebrating classic nautical style.

The outdoor Parnell Baths complex was an instant hit when it opened in 1914. The salt water pool was filled with water from the ocean, and helped to popularise ocean swimming. The lido style of the Baths was developed in the 1950s, inspired by resort-style pools in the UK, with boardwalks and reclining chairs replacing basic changing room blocks. This architectural style was popularised in Britain in the early 20th century, when many outdoor seaside pools were opened, inspired by the beaches of Italy.

Hungarian architect Tibor Donner, chief architect of the Auckland City Council in the mid-1950s, worked with fellow Council architect Ralph Wilkinson on the Parnell Baths redesign. The Auckland City Council’s Architects Office was awarded a gold medal for the design by the New Zealand Institute of Architects. The mosaic coloured glass mural was designed by James Turkington in collaboration with the architects.

Renovations and restorations in 2003 and 2010 by Matthews & Matthews Architects, who specialise in architectural conservation, ensured the ongoing popularity of the heritage complex.


Get the look

Style 1

Pots, from $95 each, from Amber Armitage and Moodstore; potted faux banana palm, $549, and potted faux palm, $389 large, from Moodstore; Coromandel sun chair (left), $399, and Piha lounger in seafood, $429, from Bolt of Cloth; Antigua linen waffle throws in mustard and navy, $239 each, and Sunbrella thick-striped cushion, $135, all from Coast; Pop side table, $690, from Citta; pot on table painted in Resene ‘Pelorus’; Marc Newson Unbreakable Drinkware jug, $19.90, and Unbreakable Drinkware highball glasses, $44.90 set of four, and Castillo round towel, $149, all from Superette; Slim Nautical Havaianas, $40, from; Sunbrella thin-striped cushion, $135, picnic bag, $339, and linen Laguna striped towels, $149 each, all from Coast. Minkpink sunglasses, stylist’s own.

Style 2

Pots, from $95 each, from Amber Armitage and Moodstore; potted faux banana palm, $549, potted faux palms, $389 large, $59 small, faux prickly pear cactus, $269, all from Moodstore; Dakota sun hat, $59.90, from Citta; Botanica outdoor cushion, $89, Botanica beach umbrella, $349, Botanica Love rug, $185, and Moeraki storage stool, $329, all from Bolt of Cloth; Pop round side table, $490, from Citta; Socks Rolled Down glass pitcher in turquoise, $135, and Socks Rolled Down tumblers in red, $55 a pair, from Bolt of Cloth; pineapple beach fan (on stool), $28, and watermelon inflatable, $99, both from Iko Iko; float swan, $99, from Moodstore; Riviera sun lounger, $830, from Alfresco Living. Model wears Karen Walker sunglasses, Ingrid Starnes dress, Kathryn Wilson sandals.

Find out more about the Parnell Baths here:

Written by: Fiona Ralph. Photography by: Melanie Jenkins. Styled images: Styled by Amber Armitage. Art direction by Shani Luckman.

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