You are here:





0 MB


0 MB

Clips (8)

  1. The first of seven parts of this full length documentary.

  2. The second of seven parts of this full length documentary.

  3. The third of seven parts of this full length documentary.

  4. The fourth of seven parts of this full length documentary.

  5. The fifth of seven parts of this full length documentary.

  6. The sixth of seven parts of this full length documentary.

  7. The seventh of seven parts of this full length documentary.

  8. The credits from this documentary.


Before he achieved worldwide fame as an actor, Sam Neill directed documentary films for the National Film Unit. This film examines the philosophy, early achievements and frustrations of one of New Zealand's most innovative architects, Ian Athfield. Athfield won an international competition in 1975 to design housing for 140,000 squatters in Manila, in the Philippines, yet struggled to gain recognition back home. This film culminates in Athfield's trip to the Philippines to pursue the project. Shooter John Toon later memorably shot feature film Rain.


A Perspective by Russell Campbell 19.10.2009

During the 1970s there was a rebellious spirit abroad at the National Film Unit. Several directors broke away from the mould of tourism promotion which, as in the period prior to 1940, had again become the dire norm of government film making. ...

Read more ›

Credits (7)

 Sam Neill
 Tom Williamson
 Dale Pomeroy

Post a comment

I am:

Please keep your comments relevant to this title. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

Comments (1)

 David Cade

David Cade | website

This is a fascinating documentary. So many older buildings have been unnecessarily demolished in New Zealand, destroying the country's history and so many new buildings are mere shafts of glass, concrete, and steel. It is good to see that Athfield has sought to resist this process, seeking to give older buildings new life. However, where he is commissioned to design new buildings it is good to see that he has sought to create buildings which have individuality and character and that he strives to have that individuality and character emerge, as it were, from the immediate New Zealand landscape. New Zealand is in desperate need of architects with this vision. The city-centres of Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch have suffered badly at the hands of architects and town planners in the past 30 years. Only Dunedin, perhaps by virtue of its geographical isolation, has remained relatively unscathed, retaining a good number of exceptionally fine older buildings and allowing Dunedin a sense of history which the other larger cities now unfortunately lack and can never retrieve.


You need to be logged in to add to your favourites.

Related Titles (10)

 The Elegant Shed - 'The Extroverts'

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

Athfield features in this classic NZ architecture series episode

 Weekly Review No. 432

Short Film, 1949 (Full Length)

Architecture students in 1949 build a house in Wellington

 Antonello & the Architect

Television, 2007 (Excerpts)

A documentary about Wellington architect Bill Toomath

 The Elegant Shed - Behind the Garden

Television, 1984 (Full Length Episode)

This Elegant Shed episode looks at the ‘Christchurch Style’

 The Living Room - Series One, Episode Two

Television, 2002 (Full Length Episode)

Features Ross Stevens’ Happy valley container house

 The Gravy - Series Three, Episode 13

Television, 2008 (Full Length Episode)

This Gravy episode features Wellington architect Gerald Melling

 New Zealand Stories - Operation Restore Hope

Television, 2011 (Full Length Episode)

Doco on Kiwi doctors in the Philippines

 New Country - New People

Short Film, 1978 (Full Length)

Another Sam Neill-directed NFU film

 Flare - A Ski Trip

Short Film, 1977 (Full Length)

Another NFU doco directed by Neill

 Housing in New Zealand

Short Film, 1946 (Full Length)

A 1946 look at NZ housing

Collections.   See all collections ›  

Included in:

 National Film Unit Collection
 Kiwi Ingenuity


And so, as a result of frustrations at home and the winning of a competition, Athfield finds himself in Manila. Perhaps here at least, ideas will be realised. 
I suppose just the things that I enjoy doing. I suppose being with people, some sort of physical contact, drinking, laughing ... that's when you feel that it'd be quite nice to capture those moments again. 
His first bricks started to arrive and he got 15 truckloads of bricks but unfortunately we didn't check them before they left the site. First time I saw them was about the eighth truckload coming up Onslow Road here, and they were all in one lump... He spent the next 18 months to two years breaking these bricks apart.