Bold, quirky, wonky - Hundertwasser-designed art centre sample opens in Whangarei

Published 17th November, 2016

It’s a sample structure of the long-awaited $16 million art centre designed by the late revolutionary artist Hundertwasser as a gift to the city.

‘I love it’ – the first stage of Whangarei’s $16m Hundertwasser art centre is completed. The Northland town is celebrating the opening of the ‘folly’, although it still needs to find another $3m for the project.

It’s a wonky structure with a mish mash of colours, typical of Hundertwasser. The unique build is called a folly, and its opening is a big moment for the project.   

“This is a requirement by the Hundertwasser Foundation that a folly is built, or a sample structure, so it gets all the elements of the artwork into it,” said Andrew Garratt, Hundertwasser project team leader. 
It will anchor the much larger arts centre, including an education wing, a gallery showing Hundertwasser’s art and a contemporary Maori gallery.

The design was a gift from the world famous Austrian artist who had made Northland his home.

The ornate Kawakawa toilets area popular tourist attraction and were Hundertwasser’s last creation, but the Whangarei centre means they won’t be his last.

“It is amazing. And I’ve just got such a really good team. And they are all volunteers just from the community,” Mr Garratt said.

The art centre must be built in keeping with Hundertwasser’s exact style.

“In the Hundertwasser building typically everything is out of line. So to get it right you’ve got to get them wrong,” said Greg Guy, construction manager.

Mr Garrett says they’re expecting about 150,000 visitors a year who will pay to go into the building, “and we’re expecting at least half a million people to come just to see the building from the outside”.

Locals have raised most of the $16 million cost, but still have to come up with another $3 million by June to finish an architectural wonder that will be the last authentic Hundertwasser design the world will see.