The Albemarle Building (1906)

The Albemarle is one of my 5 favourite Wellington buildings (more images in gallery). In part, because of its dome and elaborate facade – gestures of wealth and optimism which wouldn’t meet a developer’s bottom line today – and its story: from proud Edwardian temperance Hotel with its name chiselled into the stone, to headquarters of a workingman’s strike in 1913, to downmarket boarding house in the 50s, to rooms by the day for the homeless and by the hour for less salutary uses later on. It’s now categorised as heritage but is an earthquake risk and unoccupied.

Try listing 5 favourite buildings in your town – not easy!

For what it’s worth, buildings are a lot like humans – they breathe, regulate temperature, take in and consume water and energy, rest overnight, expel waste, include complex nervous and circulatory systems (lifts, cables and pipes everywhere) and accommodate parasites (eg me when I was lawyering!) etc. Modern ones even think. And they grow old with varying degrees of dignity. But they don’t generally travel or get into meaningful relationships – so don’t bother to hug one, it’s pointless: it’s a building!

Several media – oils, charcoal, pencil, acrylic, ink.


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