City Gallery

Past event

NZIA City Talks: Sutch a House

Monday 15 April, 6.30pm

Sutch a House

towards a residential masterpiece 

Alistair Luke

Tracing the journey and ‘trials’ of Ernst Plischke after fleeing Nazi occupied Austria, and the lead up to the design brief which gave the ideal modernist house that he always envisaged.  

When Plischke arrived in New Zealand in 1939 he was already known in architectural circles to be at the forefront of modernist design and did multiple house designs, but none ascended to the modernist purity achieved in the Sutch-Smith House, commissioned in 1953 and completed in 1956.  

Originally delivered at a symposium in Vienna which was convened to mark the 100th Anniversary of Plischke’s birth, this talk tells the story of how clients inform architects of their wishes, the collaboration, and the reign given to express larger ideals of architecture.  

In the instance of the Sutch-Smith house this spans from Plischke and clients Bill Sutch and Shirley Smith through to Alistair's work for Helen Sutch and Keith Ovenden in the design and restoration of the house in 2001-2003. A fireplace demanded by Shirley, confronted Plischke’s modernist ideals, a downstairs room that was insisted upon by Helen and added during the restoration, was the single biggest challenge Alistair faced, a stair reconfigures the past; seemingly small things which have shaped relationships and enriched spaces within this stunning building. 

Alistair Luke is a Principal in Jasmax’s Wellington studio and has been practicing architecture for over 35 years. In private practice with his wife, Sharon Jansen, they were commissioned by Helen Sutch, Bill and Shirley’s only child in 2001, to restore and modernise the Sutch-Smith House (1953 to 1956) by Ernst Plischke, in Brooklyn. Completed in 2003, the painstaking restoration went on to win multiple awards including an NZIA Enduring Award for architecture.  

City Talks is an ongoing series initiated by the New Zealand Institute of Architects Wellington Branch and presented in partnership with City Gallery Wellington. 

The talk will be followed by refreshments.