The Beehive has been labelled ugly. According to a website called virtualtourist.com (which is probably trying to make its name with a headline grabber) the Beehive is the third ugliest building in the world. The less than endearing description of the Beehive from the site is ‘a slide projector that fell on a wedding cake that fell on a waterwheel’.
It’s true that, by itself, the Beehive (the executive wing of parliament) looks odd.
It looks even odder when seen next to the other parliamentary buildings. To its left is the modern, Bowen House. To its right is the early 20th-century Edwardian neo-classical Parliament House (which was never finished to its original plan), and to the right of that, the 1899 Victorian neo-gothic Parliamentary Library. An odder collection of sibling buildings would be hard to find. According to Te Ara’s Government and nation entry, these oddly contrasting buildings are an illustration of the casual, haphazard development of both the parliamentary buildings and New Zealand’s system of government.
But, despite the oddity, is odd the same as ugly?
Sir Basil Spence was a world renowned British architect who designed the Beehive, and supposedly gave it its name based on a box of beehive brand matches given to him. Internally, the Beehive has some beautiful finishing including Tākaka marble and Tawa panelling. Externally, it is a tourist attraction that is absolutely unique. As has been noted about the Beehive and its sibling buildings: ‘people love them or hate them’.
Myself, I love the Beehive. What do you think? Is it ugly or unique?