The architecture of Cecil Wood.
Thesis DisciplineArt History
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This thesis examines the career of the New Zealand architect, Cecil Walter Wood (1878-1947). Chapter One outlines Wood's family background, his training as an articled pupil in the office of Frederick Strouts and as a student of Samuel Hurst Seager at Canterbury College School of Art and his subsequent experience in England (1901-1905) where he worked for the London County Council's Architects Department and Arts and Crafts architects, Robert Weir Schultz and Leonard Stokes. Wood returned to New Zealand in 1906 to take up a junior partnership with Hurst Seager. Wood began independent practice in 1909 and Chapter Two discusses how his practice and reputation developed, the day-to-day running and staffing of his office in the 1930s, and the nature of his library which helps to provide some insight into Wood's attitudes towards architecture. The remaining chapters focus on Wood's output: his domestic work including the Arts and Crafts designs of his early period and his later Georgian Revival houses; educational buildings, focussing particularly on his Collegiate Gothic designs at Christ's College, Christchurch; his Arts and Crafts influenced parish churches and his controversial Wellington Anglican Cathedral project. Wood adopted a stripped classical idiom for the majority of his Public and Commercial buildings which are examined in a final chapter. Discussion within these categories focuses on how the designs reflect the interests developed during Wood's training and his period in England and, as his career progressed, influences gained from subsequent overseas trips and contemporary architectural journals. His work is placed within a New Zealand and an international context through comparison with relevant works by his contemporaries and examination of his response to overseas developments, particularly European modernism. A polished draughtsman, Wood was admired for his professionalism and total dedication to architecture. He emerges as an architect of great skill and professional accomplishment who was, along with W.H. Gummer and W. Gray Young, one of the leading New Zealand architects of his generation. Although his architectural career was interrupted by two WorId Wars and curtailed by the economic depression of the 1930s, Wood produced an impressive body of work which exemplifies the traditionalist approach to design during a period of transition in twentieth-century architecture.