WOOL HOUSE - Wellington 1983

WOOL HOUSE - Wellington 1983

A MESSAGE FROM THE CHAIRMAN

MAURICE TEBBS

On Friday, 5th October I learned that Maurice had died in Nelson, after a short battle with cancer. A few months ago, he sent me a snapshot of his career which is summarised below.  Maurice was a force in Stephenson & Turner’s Wellington office, whose reputation for great drawings often preceded him, with rumours of a fabled blue crayon which would be used on the drawings he felt needed perfecting.

Maurice’s career started with over fifty small domestic projects in the early 1960’s. In the mid 60’s, he travelled to the UK full of confidence but without a degree.  He was somehow accepted into the office of Denys Lasdun, who normally only employed English grads with a minimum of 5 years’ experience.  His first job with Lasdun was the Library at the award winning University of East Anglia.  From there, he was lucky enough to move on to the National Theatre on London’s Southbank.  These legendary, ’brutalist architecture’ projects certainly must’ve given Maurice a love of expressed concrete and a firmness of form that he carried through his career.

On his return from his OE in 1966, he joined S&T, becoming a principal of the Wellington office after only 4 years at a time when S&T was the largest Architecture practice in Australasia. Maurice left his mark on Wellington, Dunedin and Taipei with a series of buildings designed with the sensitivity he developed with Lasdun.  While he was the president of the NZIA he was also working on the largest of his projects the Veterans General Hospital in Taipei, around five times the size of Te Papa.

In Dunedin, he was part of a large team working for nine years on the Dunedin Hospital Ward Block. Understanding the future of the hospital was in flux was something he awaited with interest of someone with a mind for great healthcare architecture.

In Wellington, he leaves a legacy of buildings which were designed to show of the beauty of concrete.  Amongst these are the Civic Administration Building, Britannic House, Trusteebank House and Wool House (all their original names).  Of these, Wool House was a particular favourite where he worked closely with the late John Hollings, whom he regarded as NZ’s outstanding structural engineer.  After the building was extended, losing its distinctive cross braces, his disappointment when the beautiful concrete work was covered over was understandable. His passion for Wellington, extended to an active term with the Wellington Architectural Centre, including being the president between 1968 and 1969. He fondly remembered working alongside Ath and Gordon Moller on his part of Wellington’s loved Civic Square development. The Civic Administration Building was his swansong project, up to his retirement from S&T in 1989.

Since ‘retiring’ Maurice moved to Nelson and carried on designing houses and residential development projects, maintaining an active interest in the profession he loved.

Maurice’s family will celebrate his life in a private celebration.


Dennis Chippindale, Chair S&T

 WOOL HOUSE - Wellington 1983

WOOL HOUSE - Wellington 1983

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 CIVIC ADMINISTRATION BUILDING - Wellington 1991

CIVIC ADMINISTRATION BUILDING - Wellington 1991

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