Renowned Christchurch architect dies

ACTIVE: Peter Beaven in front of one of his inner city developments in 2010.
1 of 7Stacy Squires
ACTIVE: Peter Beaven in front of one of his inner city developments in 2010.
RENOWNED: Architect Peter Beaven won many awards for his designs.
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RENOWNED: Architect Peter Beaven won many awards for his designs.
AWARD-WINNING: Carlton Mill town houses
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AWARD-WINNING: Carlton Mill town houses
DAMAGED: Beaven designed the Centra Hotel, renamed the Holiday Inn. It has been damaged in the earthquakes.
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DAMAGED: Beaven designed the Centra Hotel, renamed the Holiday Inn. It has been damaged in the earthquakes.
MERIVALE: Tonbridge Mews in Tonbridge Street.
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MERIVALE: Tonbridge Mews in Tonbridge Street.
TOWERING TALENT: Beaven designed the Manchester Unity building
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TOWERING TALENT: Beaven designed the Manchester Unity building
CAMPAIGNER: Peter Beaven drew up pre-earthquake plans for a new Edgeware Pool.
7 of 7Supplied
CAMPAIGNER: Peter Beaven drew up pre-earthquake plans for a new Edgeware Pool.

One of New Zealand's best-known architects has died.

Peter Beaven, 86, died peacefully in Blenheim last night after being diagnosed in September last year with mesothelioma, a cancer caused by asbestos.

In 2003, Beaven was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Architecture's Gold Medal, its highest honour, for work spanning nearly half a century, most of it in Canterbury.

ARCHITECT: Peter Beaven at work in his Provincial Council Chambers office in 2010.
Stacy Squires
ARCHITECT: Peter Beaven at work in his Provincial Council Chambers office in 2010.

His daughter, Sophie Jolliffe, said her father lived for architecture.

"He had new clients. He had a new building to do for new clients and he was working on that," she said.

The former Christ's College pupil is survived by his wife, Lesley Beaven, and his three children from a previous marriage to Mary Beaven; Sabrina Sullivan, Sophie Jolliffe and Tom Beaven, and eight grandchildren.

Beaven this year spoke out against architect Don Donnithorne's design for a new cathedral.

He wanted to see a rebuild of Christ Church Cathedral, which he said could be easily achieved for $20 million.

Beaven proposed a perfectly proportioned monumental spire, the same height and size as the old one, as a February 2011 earthquake memorial.

His nephew, Matthew Beaven, said asbestos-related cancer was "evil" and in his uncle's case took about 40 years to generate.

He said his uncle always had time for his younger relatives, in particular the grandchildren and great-nieces and nephews.

He agreed that architecture was Beaven's life. He was working up until last weekend.

Beaven was particularly proud of the Chateau on the Park, a hotel built as a Gothic Revival fantasy, he said.

Shattered by quake losses

Beaven had recently moved to Blenhiem after his offices and many of the buildings he designed were destroyed in the Canterbury earthquakes.

He said the many losses had left him "shattered".

Beaven, together with Sir Miles Warren, was renowned for developing a distinctive form of modernist architecture in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

Warren and Beaven were two of the leading exponents of what became known as the Christchurch School, designing many groundbreaking buildings that have now been lost.

Beaven lost his central-city offices in the February 2011 quake and moved to Blenheim.

In an interview with The Press in March this year, he said: "I feel shattered really. It is just a huge shattering loss.

"I have moved to Blenheim. We couldn't cope with Christchurch. I just feel profoundly sad at what has happened. We lost the inner city, which was our life, and we lost my office in the Provincial Chambers.

"A great number of the buildings of that period of modernism are in trouble and being pulled down. The whole of Christchurch has been lost anyway. You can't isolate any particular work.

"It is not just my buildings, it is the whole Christchurch city character. All those Victorian streets and buildings. It has been torn away from us."

Peter Beaven's work included:

1. Lyttelton Road Tunnel Administration building; category 1 registered by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.

2. SBS building, corner of Worcester and Manchester streets.

3. Swimming hall at Queen Elizabeth II Park.

4. Chateau on the Park; a hotel built as a Gothic Revival fantasy.

5. Holiday Inn, corner of Cashel and High streets.

The Press