Basin project paves the way

By Alexandra Newlove

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Block-layer Laurie Cook works on Te Kakano, being built in preparation for the Hundertwasser Art Museum. Photo / Michael Cunningham
Block-layer Laurie Cook works on Te Kakano, being built in preparation for the Hundertwasser Art Museum. Photo / Michael Cunningham

It's not the easiest way to earn a crust when you're paid by the brick but, for block-layer Laurie Cook, its the opportunity to contribute to a community icon and do something "a bit different".

Mr Cook is one of about 50 tradespeople working away at the Town Basin in the coming months, crafting Te Kakano, the building which acts as a practice run for the planned Hundertwasser Art Centre.

"There are no levels and no string lines. It's very hard to do because it's the opposite of what you've been taught," Mr Cook said, as he sculpted the curved external wall of the so-called "folly".

The koru-shaped building which will house a seating area and lookout is being constructed under a weather-proof wrap on the grassed area across the service lane from the former Northland Harbour Board and Northland Regional Council building. All going well for fundraisers, the building will be transformed into a Hundertwasser work come June next year, with $10.99 million of the $16.25 million required raised so far.

Mr Cook was one of many involved in the build who had worked with Hundertwasser himself on the artist's Kawakawa toilet project.

"Well, I think I'd rather be doing a straight line," Mr Cook said jokingly.

"But I think it's pretty cool, I enjoyed working with Frederick [Hundertwasser] even though you needed patience. Things are not the norm with him, he has his own ethos of building - so not too many straight lines."

The $300,000 Te Kakano build kicked off in May and was expected to wind up in September. Hundertwasser Foundation representative Richard Smart said a "folly" construction was a requirement for every Hundertwasser building, to allow the local craftspeople a chance to master the techniques required.

"The proviso is that all the elements of the main build are worked into this. Then when this is finished the architects can come over from Germany ... They can look at this and say you've done this bit wrong, this bit right and so on."

Mr Smart said the workers involved needed to be able to work creatively. "Not everyone is receptive to this sort of work," he said. "Some people like to do what they know and that's it. You need people who are receptive to doing things in a different way and interested in doing something a bit more creative."

- Northern Advocate

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