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Tirau, New Zealand

Big Dog and Sheep

These two delightful animal-shaped buildings host a visitor center and wool shop 

The small town of Tirau, New Zealand, is home to some gargantuan animals. A big sheep herded by a big dog happily guard the highway through the metropolis with a population just under 800.

The Big Dog houses the i-SITE Visitor Centre (it’s also known as the Big Dog Information Centre), while the Big Sheep hosts a wool and craft shop in its stomach. Both were constructed in 1990s, but the sheep came first and when it came time for the visitor center to be constructed, it was designed to match. Local artisan Steven Clothier created its head.

You’ll find buildings in corrugated iron all over New Zealand, as well as many “Big Things.” But in Tirau, the humble material is celebrated as a sculptural device. In addition to the dog and sheep, there’s also a cow with a shopping cart, a shepherd outside a church, and a praying mantis.  

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