This bus stop in central Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, is arguably one of the most beautiful bus stops in the world. The long winding road leads straight into the CBD from the beachfront suburbs of St Helier’s and Mission Bay. Dwarfed by two huge towering trees and with great sea views this little shelter is not a bad place to wait.
New Zealand, land of astonishing natural beauty, landscapes that almost seem false as they are so incredible and unusual. Land of sensitive and unique flora and fauna, tatoos, the haka, sheep and cattle…and err interesting public toilets. You may think it strange that such a facility is to be featured on this blog for it’s design aesthetic, but it is a pretty strange sight.
Travelling up to the northern tip of the country to a small town called Paihia, I noticed the small vibrant structure immediately. At first it looks more like a small brick a brack shop or a tourist vendor. However as you come closer you will notice the sign written in multicoloured and individually styled letters reading the words “Paihia’s Wee Toilet”.
The small box like building is decorated with metal toilets that have been converted into plant pots. Long wild grass potrudes from the disused boat that sits on the roof. Wooden benches line the small coves, proving practical for waiting children. The sloping walls at the entrance allow for a degree of privacy while washing your hands while also welcoming in sunlight. At night the public toilets light up in neon pink and green making it look even more inviting but also fooling some tourists into believing it is a silent dance venue.
And who may be responsible for such an eccentric piece of architecture in the middle of a tiny remote town on the other side of the world – Hundertwasser of course. The eccentric artist and architect spent a considerable amount of time in New Zealand and although his contribution to Paihia’s architectural landscape was small, it is certainly significant. He would have no doubt also been pleased to know that it was certainly the cleanest public toilet I have ever visited.
It may look like a moss covered traditional living room, but there is much more to this garden than meets the eye. If you look a little closer you may spot the salvaged plank table/greenhouse and the bottle plant pots attached to the walls.
The garden was designed using reused materials and gained a considerable amount of attention and praise at the Ellerslie Flower Show in Christchurch, New Zealand.
This garden was created by Grant Stephens & Rebecca Hammond, H & S Landscape Design. They named it REVOLUTIONISING REUSE.
“Natives and perennials [plants] meet to create and enhance a contemporary courtyard garden that provides outdoor living while challenging the perception of reusing discarded objects.”
It shows that reuse and salvage can be applied to landscape design as well as in the interiors. This garden is innovative and beautiful, allowing the public to gather great ideas for their own homes.
Driving along in the tumbling hills of the Catlins on New Zealand’s South Island you can stumble across some ‘curios’ places (sorry for the cheesy wordplay – the bay close by is called Curio Bay). The Lost Gypsy Gallery in Papatowai is an incredible little place.
Pretty much stuck in the middle of nowhere on one of the most Southern tips of the world, surrounded by astonishing landscapes and secluded beaches is a little caravan with mechanical sculptures and handmade fountains. Coming closer you realise that most of these objects are made of recycled materials, such as scrap metal, old bottles and Paua shells.
When you step into the small bus housing the Lost Gypsy Gallery, cluttered with fantastic tiny little machines or mechanical toys, it is like entering the world of an eccentric genius which is exactly what it is. The walls are covered in small circuits and retro posters of old cartoons and advertisements.
Large rounded pearly shells are connected to one another with wires and suspended over a small dish of water, as you turn them they scoop up the water making trickling sounds as the water splashes out again. There are small machines operated by tiny motors or complex mechanical functions everywhere and a little train track reaches all around the little bus on which you can watch a tiny train whizzing past you.
Outside there is a small aluminium caravan which sells delicious coffee, next to it are seats and benches made of reclaimed wood and decorated with glass bottle parts, shells and other discarded materials.
Next to the old gypsy bus is the entrance to the Winding Thoughts Theatre which is full of fun ‘toys’ for grown ups. The star attraction being the piano – each key is connected to an object that makes a sound.
One is connected to a mannequin head covered in dreadlocks fastened with bells, another to a drum while one is connected to a tape recorder running on a circuit.
The complex structure allows you to create a one man band which screeches along and often triggers moving objects. The whole experience is a lot of fun mainly because of the creative energy the place exerts and all the eccentric and brilliant inventions surrounding you.
You can find the creator Blair Somerville working away in his workshop attached to The Lost Gypsy Gallery surrounded by circuits and small tools building numerous mechanical objects. He has been working on this project for the last 15 years adding more and more ambitious pieces to it as he goes along. Each piece is like a work of art, created from discarded or found materials and brought back to life with Blair’s impressive skill and vivid imagination.