The Withers House was the first built work of Auckland architect Russell Withers (1942–2021). It dates from 1969 and is featured in David Mitchell and Gillian Chaplin’s The Elegant Shed (1984).
While the book (and subsequent TV series) raised an awareness of almost all the architects and buildings that appeared in its pages, this was not the case for the Withers House and the project has not been published in the past 40 years. The house still exists, almost entirely intact, at the end of a suburban cul-de-sac and it still fits Mitchell’s memorable description as “the kind of optimistic tour-de-force that only a young and gifted architect could have produced”.
From 1971 until 1979, Withers practised with Nick Stanish, as Stanish and Withers. Alongside his architectural practice, he lectured at the University of Auckland from 1977 until the mid-1980s and also wrote a regular column in New Zealand Architect, dealing with the political and social aspects of architectural practice. He is thought to have been the first to deploy the term ‘bicultural’ in local architectural discourse, in a 1986 column on Racism and Architecture.
The 44-page soft-cover book, designed and published by architect Giles Reid and photographer Mary Gaudin, follows books on John Scott’s Werry and Francis Houses, Ivan Juriss’ Worrall House and Henry Kulka. Go to marygaudin.com to learn more.