Hundreds gather for Beaven's funeral

05:50, Jun 11 2012
Beaven funeral
LAST GOODBYE: Peter Beaven's coffin is carried into Christ's College Chapel.

Renowned Christchurch architect and ''red-blooded optimist'' Peter Beaven has been farewelled at a memorial service in the city.

Over 300 people packed the Christ's College chapel this afternoon to pay their respects to Beaven.

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

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

He was known for his role in developing a distinctive form of modernist architecture, known as the Christchurch School, in the 1950s, 60s and 70s.

In 2003, Beaven was awarded the New Zealand Institute of Architecture's Gold Medal, its highest honour, for his work.

During the service, architect Marshall Cook paid tribute to Beaven's energy and warmth, saying he was once described as being ''as brilliant and erratic as a torched box of fireworks''.


''Peter was a red-blooded optimist who has left large footprints in the sands of our time,'' Cook said.

Beaven had earned a place in history as one of New Zealand's foremost architects, he said.

''His life's work can be seen as an alternative view of architecture, based on the joy of designing buildings and the pleasure of occupying them.''

Cook said Beaven had continued to work as his condition worsened, completing sketch plans of his latest house design shortly before his death.

Beaven's three children spoke fondly of their time with their father.

Tom Beaven said he would remember his father for his sense of fun, as well as his ''amazing ability to relate to anyone''.

''As a son growing up with Dad, there were always exciting adventures to be had,'' he said.

Sophie Jolliffe said her father was ''the biggest chomper of Whittaker bars'', with a particular fondness for the Brazil nut flavour as he found it best for his teeth.

Jolliffe said Beaven had once entertained her and his other children while overseas by taking them to a quiet London street and speaking about the architecture there.

''He was in full flight, but always gazing upwards, always eyes up.''

Sabrina Sullivan said Beaven had adored his grandchildren, making plenty of time for them.

''He romped with them as preschoolers and entertained them at their 21sts.''

Beaven was also well-known and loved for his ''subversive'' take on issues, Sullivan said.

''When asked for his opinion of a Lord of the Rings film, he said he felt sorry for the orcs.

'' 'Why?' we asked. 'Because they always lost'.''

Outside the chapel, donation boxes for the Restore Christ Church Cathedral Campaign and the Great Christchurch Buildings Trust were in place for those who wanted to make a donation in memory of the heritage advocate.

The Press