Gerald Parsonson's Favorite Buildings

Gerald Parsonson's Favorite Buildings

By Jaime Gillin
I've admired Kiwi architect Gerald Parsonson's work for some time. There are so many strong projects on his firm's website, including the one we featured in our June issue—his own beach house, inspired by New Zealand's traditional "bach" architecture. So I was curious to hear what three buildings most inspire him and influence his own work. "I have a very broad appetite for architecture so it was quite hard to choose 'favorites,'" Parsonson wrote in response to my query. Pressed to identify a link between his eclectic choices—detailed below—he said: "I enjoy architecture that explores and expands the resonance of place, that can frame things in ways that are unexpected or beautiful. There is so much generic modernism produced these days that I find it exciting to discover architecture that transforms normal situations into something unique and special and in doing so becomes unique itself. I think these three buildings, even though they are quite different, do this for me."

Jakob + MacFarlane, Orange Cube, Lyon, France
"At one level this is an office building with a showroom on the ground floor and roof terraces overlooking the river; at another it is a unique piece of urban sculpture, a sustainably performing orange cube with a giant hole carved out of it, responding to light, air movement, and views."

The orange facade of the Jakob + MacFarlane-designed Orange Cube in Lyon, France.

Two close-ups of the Orange Cube.

"It's covered in a skin of orange aluminum pixelated in harmony with the movement of the river. It has become so popular locally that extra buses have had to be scheduled to cater to the number of people wanting to see it."


Peter Zumthor, St. Benedict Chapel, Switzerland
"With its delicate and rhythmic tear-drop shaped structure, this building creates its own poetry of location, nature, and religion."

The Peter Zumthor-designed St. Benedict Chapel in Switzerland.

The peaceful chapel interior.

Another view of the interior.

"It is beautifully considered and crafted almost like a boat, with its curving floor and ceiling boards. Was Zumthor thinking of Jesus the carpenter and fisherman?"

John Scott, Futuna Chapel, Wellington, New Zealand
"John Scott was one of New Zealand's foremost architects and Futuna chapel is arguably his best work. It was built for the Catholic Church by the brothers themselves."

The John Scott-designed Futuna Chapel in Wellington, New Zealand.

The ceiling and construction detail.

"The building is square in plan and orchestrated by a folding origami-like roof that expands and compresses space and light, which enters through stained glass windows illuminating the interwoven tree-like structure and beautifully crafted interior."


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