Some of New Zealand's ugliest buildings and projects are praised in a book on modern architecture, including Auckland's first motorways, the Civic Building in Aotea Centre and Bulls' concrete water tower.
Dr Julia Gatley has written Long Live the Modern: New Zealand's New Architecture 1904-1984 to raise public awareness and appreciation of modern architecture to be recognised as heritage.
"I don't know why the public think it [the Civic Building] is ugly," said the University of Auckland architecture lecturer.
The Auckland City Council administration building, designed in the 1950s and the city's tallest building at 19 storeys when it opened in 1966, was a beautifully proportioned, slender building that encapsulated modernism, she said.
Dr Gatley is equally sure about the place of Auckland's first motorways, designed and built in the 1950s, within the realm of engineering heritage.
"Both the Southern Motorway and Auckland Harbour Bridge opened up big expanses of land for the development of Auckland and were filled with optimism."
Other architectural works in the book sure to raise eyebrows include the ambitious state housing projects in Tamaki, Roxburgh power station, the Auckland Electric Power Board building in Newmarket, the AMP building on the corner of Queen and Victoria Sts in Auckland and the University of Waikato campus.
Other entries are better loved, such as Grafton Bridge, Auckland's Civic Theatre, Napier's art deco National Tobacco Company building and Frank Sargeson's minuscule bach built of cheap materials in Takapuna.
Dr Gatley is a member of Docomomo New Zealand, an international movement devoted to the history, reassessment and preservation of modern architecture. Her book and accompanying exhibition at the Gus Fisher Gallery in Auckland have been motivated by a systematic, comprehensive identification and listing of modern architecture in England that confronted controversy the same way and turned public opinion around.
Dr Gatley acknowledged the attitude to tear modern buildings down was embedded, but like attitudes towards Victorian and Edwardian buildings 40 years ago and, later art deco, now was the time to flag modern buildings worth saving.