NOTE: Photos to come. I’m sorry!
When I first moved to Wellington, I lived down the road from the George Porter Towers. A bizarre building in many ways: barred windows, glasshouse laundromats, and of course, the giant tower. I was transfixed. Why does this building exist? Designed by Sir Ian Athfield, and built when brutalism was popular, it is supposed to look rough, unfinished, and unusual. Originally created for a socially progressive future, it now looks like a great setting for a dystopian story. Unfortunately, cool dystopian looking buildings are not a good fit for social housing.
I think that’s part of what makes it so fascinating. Designed for good, but genuinely terrifying. I’ve taken some photos of my favourite features.
The stairs which wind around to the top of the tower; looking so rickety it’s almost surreal. I’ve got no idea how often they were used, but I hope it wasn’t frequent.
The bars on the windows make it look like a prison staircase.
The laundries, which hang precariously off the building.
After sustaining earthquake damage, it’s been empty for about a year, and the Wellington council has made the decision to demolish it. As much as I’d love to see it restored, it doesn’t feel responsible. It doesn’t look like an inviting building to live it, even less so with age. No doubt what replaces it will for the greater good, but it’s sad to see it go all the same.