A Dunedin-based architect who retrained as a theologian has won this year's $10,000 Ashton Wylie Mind Body Spirit Literary Award.
Murray Rae, who completed his PhD in theology at King's College, London and is Professor of Theology at Otago University, was honoured with the award for his book Architecture and Theology: The Art of Place. He was presented with the prize at a ceremony held in the Trust's own building, Hopetoun Alpha, in Auckland this evening.
The Awards' convenor of judges, Adonia Wylie, says Rae's winning book is a most timely literary work that will change the way we think of our built environment and how it affects us all.
"Through Brutalism, Modernism and to today's shoddy constructions with the focus almost entirely on how much revenue can be obtained from increasingly ugly and depressing constructions, Rae states "this is a crisis of the human habitat".
"Upon reading this book one can only regret that the sense of a harmonious, numinous and spiritually enhancing built environment has deserted us almost entirely.
"This is an extremely worthwhile, educating, uplifting and much needed literary accomplishment."
The judging panel, comprising Ms Wylie, writer Joan Rosier-Jones and journalist Mike Alexander selected the winning work from five finalists.
"This year's finalists were of exceptionally high quality, each of them beautifully produced, compelling works. It made our job in selecting a winner and the runner's up very difficult," says Ms Wylie.
Awards director, Tim Eddington, says he is surprised by the quantity and quality of books published in the genre.
"There were 46 book entries in this year's Awards. Similar numbers have been received in previous years, which is exceptional for such a specific subject area. This year's book entries were impressive in their production values and with the quality of their writing. It is evident that the mind body spirit genre in New Zealand is in good heart."
The Awards are unique in New Zealand for their encouragement of writing in the mind, body, spirit genre.