Built in Dunedin is a blog about the buildings of this southern New Zealand city, and some of the lives and history lived through them. I have been writing it since July 2012. It combines social history and architectural research, and my particular interest in nineteenth and twentieth century Dunedin architects. My longer-term project is a publication summarising the work and careers of these architects. Most of the posts here look at individual buildings, with occasional excursions into other topics. Many of the stories have been published in the Otago Daily Times, although the blog allows me space to include a little more detail and a few more images.
I am an archivist by profession, and have at various times been contracted to research and review built heritage (something I no longer have time for), but this blog is an independent project.
When I started the blog I wrote:
“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 also said that if there’s one thing I continue to see in the designs and stories of Dunedin’s buildings it’s music. That’s still true, both in terms of the architectural designs, and in the ‘Dance to the Music of Time’, to borrow a phrase from Burgess. I also said “We’ll see how it goes!” So far it’s still going after five years and more than seventy posts.