Built in Dunedin is a blog of potted histories of Dunedin buildings and architects. Why write it? Hasn’t plenty been published already? Well, there are some good books out there, but many fascinating buildings still haven’t been written about, and research keeps bringing up new (and sometimes contradictory!) information about the more familiar ones. A good old-fashioned trawl through archives is still rewarding, and through the internet many resources that were hard to find or slow to search decades ago are now much easier to access.
Though not a big city, Dunedin was New Zealand’s first, and it quickly became a bustling commercial and industrial centre. Its buildings were not as large as those in the world’s great metropolitan capitals but this in no way diminishes their qualities or the artistry and engineering skills of those who designed and built them. Their shortcomings shouldn’t be excused either!
The blog will look at the design of buildings (existing and demolished) and the careers of their architects, but it will be as much about social and other aspects of history. It’s all very well looking at the Hallenstein’s building in Dowling Street as a good example of Renaissance Revival architecture, but it really comes to life when you imagine the sounds of 22 different brands of sewing machine whirring away, or the commotion as a couple of hundred workers rushed to lunch at precisely 1pm.
I don’t come to this as an architecture professional, rather as an archivist and historian, and also as a musician. If there’s one thing I continue to see in the designs and stories of Dunedin’s buildings it’s music! I hope to share some of that here. We’ll see how it goes!