The Design Philosophy of Gummer and Ford

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Moore, Cameron
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Alexandra Brown, Andrew Leach


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Gold Coast, Australia


Gummer & Ford was among New Zealand's most prominent architectural practices during the 1920s and 1930s. The practice started operations in 1923 and closed their doors in 1961 when both founding partners retired. They were responsible for a number of important buildings in the New Zealand architectural landscape. The writings of C. Reginald Ford have some received critical attention, and indeed his business and organisational acumen has been suggested by Peter Wood as the lasting legacy of the practice of Gummer and Ford. This paper attempts to extend Wood's argument to include the writing of William Gummer, the firm's principal designer, to shed light on its design philosophy. In 1914 Gummer expresses his design philosophy in "The Study of Architecture, an Address to Students." Under the heading The Art of Reason, he gives us his design philosophy in a nutshell: "allow the nature of the site and its position with regard to the compass, the character of the materials, the habits of the users together with the personal temperament of the designer shown in his use of mass, line, proportion, light and shade, scale et cetra [sic] to express themselves fully." He goes on to say, "it is not a matter of 'I wonder what style I shall do this in.' The above set of circumstances determines the style." This is a philosophy no doubt formed by Gummer's time in the Royal Academy of the Arts, and in the offices of Edwin Lutyens and Daniel Burnham. It is an intersection of a modern outlook and the language of a classical tradition. This paper will consider the historical significance and legacy of Gummer and Ford in light of Gummer's philosophy and in light of the broader problem of reconciling the classical tradition with the modern world.

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Proceedings of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand: 30, Open: Papers presented to the 30th Annual SAHANZ Conference

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© 2013 SAHANZ. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.

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Architectural History and Theory

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