Sam Kebbell

Great Cities, Rich Conversation

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Since I learnt what an architect DOES as a young boy I wanted to be one, and since I learnt what an architect COULD DO I wanted to be an educator, and now I am lucky enough to do both. I love what I do as a practising architect, but it's what we could all be doing with architecture that drives my teaching and research. I love our little country too, and it's going to be a whole lot better when collectively we know as much about architecture as we do about sport. We need to talk about architecture, a lot. It needs to have its own Sky Channel too. And I'm not just talking about Grand Designs. We need to expand the public conversation around architecture here. We need to question presumptions and develop inspiring alternatives that make our towns and cities the places where, in Sir Paul Callaghan's words, "talent wants to live".

To raise the level of our public conversations here, we need to be part of international professional and academic conversations too. Just like other artists, New Zealand architects need to talk shop with the best brains in the game. Not only on the telephone, and not only through magazines and awards programmes. We need to take our built projects into the galleries and lecture theatres where rich conversations are happening abroad. We also need to bring the profession and the academies closer together. To do our best work, to innovate, and ultimately to make great towns and cities, we also need rich conversations.

And it just so happens that some of the world's most interesting conversations around architecture are happening just across the ditch. One of those conversations is happening around an exhibition of interior architecture called, 'Situation14', at the Design Hub building, RMIT, Melbourne. An office we designed a few years ago in Wellington for a talented web design company called Resn has been selected for the show, so we're building part of it in the gallery. Believe it or not it's just a wall, but it's a wall that is part office meeting table, part domestic shelf, part museum cabinet and now that it's going in a gallery, it's part gallery wall too. It's a different kind of office. It's the kind of office that talent loves.

But getting a piece of New Zealand architecture to a celebrated international audience takes money. Not a lot. But some. This is an appeal to supporters of the arts, architecture and intellectual communities for little bit of help. Any donation you can make, ten, twenty dollars or more, will help cover the costs of getting me to Melbourne and building the wall there (and all donations attract a 33% tax credit). You'll also be part of bringing my voice, and ears, to that rich conversation; and you'll be a part of the rich conversation we need here to make great towns and cities.

Thanks very much for your support.

For a recent article on Sam see:

For more information on the Resn project see:


  • Turn it On.


    It is one thing to make a collection of fine buildings and call it a city, but it is another thing to turn that city on. To live in it in the most creative and satisfying ways. To keep reinventing it. To allow it to constantly surprise us. To play the city like an instrument. To invigorate us all. That’s the unexpected thread that came out of the fantastic exhibition and symposium in Melbourne.

    The participants included architects, landscape architects, artists, performers, historians, storytellers, and educators, and they all came at the city from a different perspective. We heard about the vital 1.5 metres of privately-owned land alongside footpaths in Bangkok that is often a shop by day and dinner table by night, we heard from artists making their work from urban air quality, we saw design processes pulled apart and explained, we saw drawing techniques and their implications on the decisions we make, we heard histories of schools, tourist developments, shopping and theatre; and the implications of those histories on the contemporary city, and we saw high-tech, low-cost interactive walls. We heard a lot, we saw a lot, and there is a lot more to talk about.

    And you helped put the Resn wall into the thick of it. The Resn wall makes an office so much more than an ‘office’. It invites the people who work around it to also play around it. The play feeds the work, and both feed the city. That was the important contribution we made to this exhibition and symposium, and it was really well received. I was very proud of it in the stunning gallery space and I know you would have loved to see it there, often swarming with people. I’ve included one picture I took between sessions on Friday to give you a feel for it. Thank you very much for being part of a great success.

    I am pleased to confirm that the conversation will continue to grow in exciting ways over the next month or so. I will be talking to students at Auckland University next week, Victoria University is supporting both my presentation at the Melbourne Art Fair the week after, and my participation in another exhibition and symposium on Creative Practice in Brussels the week after that - and there are buildings to make too! If you’re not on my conventional email list and you want to stay in touch after this boosted campaign finishes, please let me know. Thanks again.

    Best wishes,

    Turn it On.
  • Good to Go


    The exhibition opened to the public at the end of last week and got off to a brilliant start, with 600 visitors through by the end of the weekend. I leave for Melbourne tomorrow morning, and the opening function will be on Friday when everybody is in town.

    I am super excited about getting there, for all sorts of reasons. Firstly, because you've helped put the Resn wall up for conversation with practitioners and academics from Australia, the UK, India, Turkey, Thailand, USA, Hong Kong, and Belgium, and I'm really looking forward to the discussion we're going to have. It’s also going to be great to see the work other exhibitors have produced, the possibilities for architecture they raise, the threads that run through all of our work, and what all that could mean for New Zealand towns and cities.

    I’ve attached the best photo I have at the moment that shows the Resn wall in the gallery context. The gallery is a very beautiful space on the ground floor of the Design Hub - an excellent building designed by Australian architect Sean Godsell and completed in 2012. You can see some photographs of the building on Godsell's website here:

    Thanks again for being part of this project. It’s a privilege to have your amazing support, and it’s exciting to share your enthusiasm for really good architecture, and the rich conversations that happen around it.

    Best wishes,

    Good to Go
  • You Win!


    Fasted Boosted Campaign Yet

    Wow. We have the official word: that was the fastest Boosted campaign yet, reaching our target in less than 48 hours. Thank you so much for getting behind this project. Thank you for your donations, for talking about it with friends, for your comments, feedback and enthusiasm along the way; and thank you for diving in like you did. I said it in my video, but I can say it again now, you're awesome.

    And also in the last 48 hours (and some), two of RMIT's best architecture students have been beavering away installing the wall. Dharman Gersch and Andrew Gooden have borrowed vans, collected materials, sweet-talked university technicians, collected picture frames, donned face masks, and they've assembled a piece of the Resn wall in Melbourne. I don't have pictures of the finished product yet, but I have attached an image of the work in progress.

    You can see the beautiful photographs of the original Resn wall, taken by Wellington photographer Nicola Edmonds, being pinned on the white gallery wall (which you can also see here: and you can see photos of two important precedents hung in frames on the wall itself. These precedents help us place the project in a broader cultural context, or if you like, place it into related traditions: in the tradition of house/museums (the stand-out example being John Soane's house/museum in London); and the tradition of carefully crafted plywood constructions (the stand-out producer for me, being Donald Judd). I'll be talking more about this at the symposium at the end of next week.

    Thank you so much again for your support, I'll keep you in touch.
    Best wishes,

    You Win!