Paul Pascoe is considered a pioneer of modernist architecture due to the large scale of buildings he designed in the style for his home town of Christchurch and further afield.
Paul commenced architectural training in 1927 and was articled to the successful Christchurch architect Cecil Wood from 1928 to 1933. By the early 1930s Pascoe’s designs showed the influence of the modernist movement. He did not, however, gain first-hand experience of the style until he worked in prominent architectural firms in England, such as the Tecton group, between 1934 and 1937.
In the mid-1940s Pascoe’s own architectural firm in Christchurch possessed a preference for translating and adapting modern international ideas to suit New Zealand conditions, thereby earning it a reputation as one of the foremost modern architectural firms in the country. Houses were carefully planned, modest, and portrayed qualities in tune with the local environment, New Zealand’s architectural history and local building materials. Many of their designs mimicked the simplicity of early colonial homes.
In 1955 Pascoe chose to practise alone. Soon after, he designed new terminal buildings at Christchurch International Airport. The strikingly modernist building was well received by the public and by architects: 30,000 people visited it within a month of opening, and in 1960 the New Zealand Institute of Architects awarded Pascoe their gold medal for this work. In 1961 Pascoe was elected a fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Architects and the following year a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
Adapted by Matthew Tonks from the DNZB biography by Ana Robertson