Wananga landing Wananga landing

Hall and MacKenzie Untitled [Test Structure], c.1970

20 November 2023

Pre-cast concrete
UC/REG/1133. Commissioned c.1968.
Location: Ilam Campus, Arts Road, School of Fine Arts


In 1957 the University of Canterbury began its move from what is now the Arts Centre in central Christchurch, out to our present campus in Ilam. The move was necessitated by growing student numbers and a desperate need for more space.

Not strictly a sculpture, this test structure was commissioned by Keith MacKenzie of Hall and MacKenzie, to demonstrate the concrete finishes for the School of Forestry, which was completed in 1970. MacKenzie had originally suggested a surface effect that was to be produced by using a cast ribbed form work, hammered back to reveal the aggregate. As this original finish did not meet with approval, the structure was created on site to demonstrate alternatives.

The School of Forestry and the James Hight Tower, (Ministry of Works, 1964-1975) are the earliest examples of Brutalist architecture on the Ilam campus. 

While the concept for the Ilam site had been to create ‘An over-all plan unity with an ordered casualness’, nonetheless some of the buildings did not meet with great enthusiasm. In April 1968 The Press condemned ‘the bleak and brutal spaces of the new University at Ilam … this graceless conglomerate of materials and building types’. Many students and teachers were however just pleased to enjoy the space.

Hall and MacKenzie
Untitled [Test Structure],
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