“Whare Tane”
26 Clive Road, Mount Eden (Maungawhau)

Artist Trevor Lloyd was a well known artist and cartoonist of his era. Born 1863 into a farming family near what is now Silverdale near Albany, he showed promise as an artist, exhibiting with the Auckland Society of Arts in his early years. Leaving farm-work after an injury he moved to Auckland, earning his living illustrating magazines and papers such as the Weekly News and the Auckland Herald. His cartoon of the All Blacks defeat by Wales in 1905 contains possibly the first visual use of ‘the kiwi’ as the nation’s symbol.

In the early 1920’s Lloyd acquired the property at 26 Clive Rd on the side of Maungawhau (Mount Eden) from the Winstone company, which had a number of quarries around the mountain until the 1940’s. Interestingly, Lloyd hired a little-known Scottish-born architect John Anderson (who, from records available) had been practicing in New Zealand since 1914, mostly in Hamilton though at this point he worked from an office at 109 Queen St. His design for what Lloyd would name ‘Whare Tane’ is a fair-faced ferro-cement and scoria modern monolith for the times. The building seems to owe some debt to the work of Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Burley Griffin, particularly the Emil Bach and Blythe houses (1915 and 1913 respectively) with the wide eaves and cubic forms – though it would be hard to dismiss similarity’s to the work of other Auckland based architects working in the commercial field at the time such as Clinton Savage, A Sinclair O’Conner and William Gummer.

‘Stoneways’, Gummers own house a mere 400 yards away, constructed during the same period (1926-27) and built with double brick exterior walls, reinforced concrete beams and pillars is also modern (in its planning) with what some call influences of the Spanish Mission style –although Classical details also register – all of which are notably absent from Anderson’s structural ode to modernity. Some of Gummers earlier work in the Hawke’s Bay, including ‘Tauroa’(and Craggy Range for the van Asch family) had closer affinities to the modernist imperative that John Anderson’s design seems to relate too. While William Gummer’s career in architecture by the mid 1920’s had encompassed a wide range of influences and experiences, working with Lutyen’s practice in England, D. H Burnham in Chicago before returning home, little is known about Anderson’s background.

It seems likely, given the information available that he trained in Glasgow, home to several key works by Charles Rennie MacKintosh – a figure of influence and respect amongst the upcoming European modernists later associated with the Weimar Bauhaus school; Mackintosh’s design work was shown at the Vienna Secession of 1900, a pivotal exhibition and building. Other designer’ work connected to this period and available to the prosperous Scottish port city include Peter Behrens, a founding member of the Deutscher Werkbund (the German national organisation of designers) and Erich Mendelsohn. His immediate American contemporaries were Frank Lloyd Wright, Walter Burley Griffin and perhaps Irving Gill. John Anderson may have also come in contact with the American buildings via his travels to New Zealand.

In comparison to Gummer’s elaborate painted Classical/Spanish modern building, Anderson’s cubic and stark ivy covered concrete tower resonates with the hand of a perhaps less elegant, but equally adventuress designer, concentrating the delivery/spectacle in a smaller footprint on a steep site. Seen in its original setting against the volcanoes side, it is an inspiring and challenging modern building (especially as a home) in a time of largely Arts and Crafts and Beau Arts affectations.

Andersons design (now with a category II Heritage grading) is a noble ‘keep’ closer in reference to a commercial building than the almost romantic spatial forms elegantly spread or stacked on the lawns of Upland and Claude Road’s. Rising above a basement of rock quarried from the nearby mountain, the unpainted concrete structure is mostly hard edges and straight lines though this is softened by a curving stone staircase leading from the basement to the first level front door. Sheltering the entrance is a balcony accessed by glass doors on the upper story, itself shielded by the large projecting eave which surrounds all four sides of the building. This is then topped by a roof terrace, with views of the distant harbour accessed by an internal stair from the upper lounge; there is also a smaller lounge area on the entry floor. Large plate glass windows on both upper levels facing the harbour views light the uniquely decorated interior spaces.
Over the years Lloyd had built up a substantial collection of Maori artefacts combing the beaches and headlands of the Auckland’s wild West coast. He also built a family bach in the Waitakere Ranges based on the design of a Maori meeting house and around the house in Clive Road are a number of cement castings, probably taken from his own carvings which also adorned the Waitakere residence. Lloyd continued to paint into his later life, and is represented in numerous collections throughout the country. Passing away in September of 1937 he left a memorable legacy of work and the concrete embodiment of a progressive and unique collaboration with John Anderson.

Lloyd’s children, both Olivia and Constance were also to become involved in the arts, enrolling at the Elam School of Art. Constance was to live in the house for many years, often being seen working in the expansive gardens on the property. Though the section has since become overgrown, the house has remained in almost original form, and at present is undergoing careful restoration work.

Other references to the work of John Anderson are minimal; prior to ‘Whare Tane’ he is mentioned in NZ Building Progress (Sept 1922, p 21) as calling for tenders in relation to a concrete or masonry house to be built in Takapuna – and then he seems to disappear until Lloyd’s wondrous house, after which he disappears again. There has been some indication that he worked in Hamilton at one time but this is (at this point) unsubstantiated. Any further information would be generously appreciated.