John Scott

(1924 – 1992) – From Hawke’s Bay, attended Auckland School of Architecture 1946 to 1949/50 but left to work with other experimental students, became part of ‘Structural Developments’ architectural/construction practice with Dick Hobin, Renate Prinz, Frank Stockman and Henry James in late 1950.

Designed a number of houses in Auckland and Hawke’s Bay between 1948 and 1952, working briefly with the Group before moving to Haumoana (Hawke’s Bay). Proceeded to experiment and designed several stunning buildings including the Fortuna Chapel with Lee Hoogerburg (1958). Also colleague of Maurice K Smith. Developed a reputation for unique and inspirational buildings before dying at an early age.

Hancock house. (1951-52) John Scott/Structural Developments

The Hancock house appears to be one of only 2 or 3 existing buildings designed by John Scott in Auckland during the time of ‘Structural Developments’ and the latter School of Architecture years. The text and historical photos in Russell Walden’s book on John Scott’s Futuna Chapel “Voices of Silence” describes the building as seen by the new owner John Barker, also an architect from England.

Although small, Barker describes it in a letter to Walden as “.. an architect’s dream house.. It was such a nice warm family house full of surprises after the sterility of plaster and wallpaper we were used to”. That warmth and sense of excitement is still evident in much of the house as it stands today. The angled timber ceiling (similar to the Group and Hobin’s early houses) has been covered by Gib-board but the wooden timber walls, roof beams (8″ x 2″s at 6ft centres.!) and central white brick chimney still impart a strong feeling of what Barker was relating.

Scott’s design, sympathetically extended by Barker, is still powerfully apparent in the remaining building. Intimate, almost delicate and human in scale, the split level interior is a delight. A short stairway from the entrance level with a bedroom and laundry area up to the open-plan kitchen, dining and lounge. This is wrapped  around the centrally placed chimney which radiates warmth throughout the finely proportioned and functional area –  before drifting easily up another short stairway to the upper level bathroom and sleeping area.

Large full length glass windows and doors in the dining and lounge open out to the section, the lounge doors to a deck sheltered by the overhang of the classic (previously) mono-pitched corrugated  aluminum roof. The building is still mostly sheathed in timber board & batten, although no longer the striking combination of black creosote above a pale yellow brick base. Originally a stark black wedge without eaves, Scott’s buildings were “both visually and spatially strong”, and  “clearly outpaced Brown and Wilson’s ‘cowsheds'” according to Walden. Interestingly, the house featured coloured glass panes in the large upstairs bedroom windows.!

to be continued…

The John Barker addition added further bedrooms to the top floor and a garage area beneath, and also changed the roofline from mono-pitch to a more conventional gable. Some modifications have been made in the kitchen, laundry and bathrooms but much of the houses original design and character has been preserved.