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2010 Gold Medal: Marshall Cook

Cook House, Cook Sargisson & Pirie

Photo by Simon Devitt

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Marshall Cook has had more than 40 years experience working within New Zealand and internationally as a consultant designer, urban planner and educator. The successful practice he set up after graduating in 1968 continues today as Cook Sargisson & Pirie and has won and maintained a reputation of the highest order.

Marshall Cook’s design work spans a wide range of buildings including resorts, commercial and urban developments, but housing has always been the field in which his architectural skills have been displayed at their highest pitch and won the greatest acclaim. The whole body of his work is characterised by a complete and exhaustive knowledge of materials, technology, colour and space placed at the service of a liberal, generous and humane design philosophy. The result has been a series of houses of the first quality. They form memorable and delightful environments within which domestic life in all its aspects is both celebrated and nourished.

These houses represent high-watermarks of contemporary New Zealand domestic architecture which will continue to be valued and studied by their future inhabitants and by architects.

Marshall Cook’s long-standing interests include the impact of urban architecture and design for inner city housing, residential intensification, town houses and multiple housing suited to the New Zealand lifestyle. The importance of providing affordable housing in New Zealand is a major interest and he is exploring innovative product techniques for designing low-cost homes. He directed the setting up of Housing New Zealand’s Healthy Housing programme in 2001 and counts the project to modernise and upgrade State homes as one of the most satisfying of his career.

Marshall’s teaching career has ranged from working and teaching in the UK in the 1970s to the position of Adjunct Professor of Design at Unitec where he still teaches today. He has been an NZIA branch, regional and national juror and served on the NZIA National Council and the Auckland Branch Committee. In all these fields his relationships with other architects and students has displayed an enormous warmth of spirit founded not only in his love of architecture, which is irrepressible, but in an interest in other people and how they live and work which also animates the houses he designs. Throughout a long and productive life, happily, still in mid-stream, Marshall has constructed a place in the architecture of this country founded not only on exemplary skill but also on an infectious enthusiasm for other people. Those who have worked with him say that, like living in his houses, it is an experience no-one can ever forget.

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