Monday, 4 August 2014

Southern Community Laboratories (former Plunket House)

At first glance there is nothing awe inspiring or eye catching about the Southern Community Laboratories (SCL). Its settled in the ever evolving main street of Dunedin that countless people pass by who never take a second thought as to what this modernist building retains. It was designed by Dunedin architect Fraser Oakley Pinfold and built on February the 17th 1965.
Looking at it from the street, it is understandable why people do not take a second glace and marvel at its form. The miss match between the SCL’s bright banners on the windows, the bushes and the Plunket House entrance that over hangs all come together in some ugly portrait.

Taken opposite Rob Roy dairy
But this building should not be judge by its cover for if you walk round to the rear you are greeted with a familiar modernist design that’s pleasant on the eyes and clean in its form. This is what people should see when they make their daily commutes to and from town. No element back there seems to fight for more attention than the other, they all work together in a well framed grid of stone, concrete, glass and steel.
The rear of the building with car park


Walking around to its north side you are greeted with the same piece of architectural candy. Except this side has two air tunnels that scale the top side of the wall like a “pair of caterpillars hanging by the train tracks” (thanks Leigh).

Viewing it from newly found angles I began to favorite this side of the building above all the others as it made me feel something I didn’t feel with the rest of the building. A strange love perhaps? Or maybe it was more of a helpless feeling as if I was falling into the deep blue sky. Whatever it was, I am interested to discover more of this weird concrete relationship…

By Chris Clapham

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