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Hankey Street Shoot

Images from a recent shoot at the Mt Cook residents Hankey Street Wellington by the renowned Bill Toomath.

Hidden behind a modest timber gate, down a narrow dead-end Wellington street, lies a garden sanctuary containing one of New Zealand’s enigmatic architectural treasures. This elevated timber retreat is a place of reverie in Mt Cook, nestled high between the twisted limbs of the surrounding native bush.

Toomath died in 2014. Born in Lower Hutt, he completed his Masters of Architecture at Harvard University on a Fulbright scholarship. He was taught by Pritzker Architecture Prize laureate I.M Pei, a Chinese-born American architect who designed the Louvre’s Pyramid and Hong Kong’s Bank of China building, among many other notable structures. Toomath then worked with European modern master Walter Gropius, and later with Pei in New York.

After his return to New Zealand in 1954, Toomath developed an inspiring body of work in partnership with Derek Wilson, which included his own house on Mt Victoria, completed in 1964. The duo also designed the Wellington Teachers’ College, Wool House in Featherston Street and this crimson tree-top retreat in Wellington’s Mt Cook, all of which have received NZ Institute of Architects’ awards for enduring architecture.

The Mt Cook retreat was an early project for Toomath and Wilson, designed in 1956 for a Mr and Mrs Dobson, who had no children but did possess a grand piano. The house was completed in 1960. Today it is owned by Auckland-based museum consultant and conservator Rose Evans and her husband, architect Ken Davis, who moved to Auckland in 2005 and now rent the house to appreciative tenants.

 

Photography - Thomas Seear-Budd