As tributes pour in for famed New Zealand architect Sir Miles Warren, who died aged 93 on Tuesday August 9, 2022, his architectural legacy continues to thrive.

Many of Warren and Mahoney’s projects, the company he founded with Maurice Mahoney, have featured on Things pages over the years – and not just the larger ones, such as Christchurch Town Hall, the Michael Fowler Center and the headquarters of Auckland Television New Zealand, but also houses that grew out of “Christchurch School”.

Te Kāhui Whaihanga NZIA describes the Christchurch School as “a fusion of the solidity of New Brutalism with the light vernacular of the group’s architects”.

When Sir Miles Warren asked Sir Michael Fowler for a design brief for Wellington Town Hall, he was apparently told: "The same as Christchurch, but better." And he had six weeks to do it.

MONIQUE FORD/Stuff

When Sir Miles Warren asked Sir Michael Fowler for a design brief for Wellington Town Hall, he was apparently told: “The same as Christchurch, only better.” And he had six weeks to do it.

The Christchurch school continues to influence many architects today, including Herriot’s team, Melhuish O’Neill Architects (HMOA) in Christchurch.

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The firm lives and breathes modernism, and the team works in one of Christchurch’s notable modernist buildings designed by Sir Miles Warren – the shared office was once the renowned architect’s home and workplace.

Architect Duval O'Neill outside the company's shared office - the building was designed by Sir Miles Warren in 1962 as his home and office.  (File photo)

Alden Williams/Homed

Architect Duval O’Neill outside the company’s shared office – the building was designed by Sir Miles Warren in 1962 as his home and office. (File photo)

Architect Sir Miles Warren is pictured in the gardens of the same office - his then home and workplace at 65 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch.  On the left, a detail of Ballantyne House (1959).

Provided

Architect Sir Miles Warren is pictured in the gardens of the same office – his then home and workplace at 65 Cambridge Terrace, Christchurch. On the left, a detail of Ballantyne House (1959).

In a previous interview, architect Duval O’Neill said the firm was “completely immersed in modernism in the office.” “It feels very natural to us, even if other people are constantly amazed by it (the office).”

O’Neill also said that one of the reasons these houses continue to find favor with Kiwis is that we appreciate that there is a real craft involved in the planning of these houses.

“There is a generosity of space and a (strong) relationship with the outdoors and capturing key views. More often than not, it’s the simplicity found in the built-in joinery that works so well.

This architects perspective of the mid-1970s townhouses in Merivale by Sir Miles Warren, resurfaced when the house hit the market two years ago.

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This architects perspective of the mid-1970s townhouses in Merivale by Sir Miles Warren, resurfaced when the house hit the market two years ago.

One of the same townhouses 50 years later - still a beautiful home that caters to modern lifestyles.

COWDY

One of the same townhouses 50 years later – still a beautiful home that caters to modern lifestyles.

“These houses reflect a real consideration given to how the spaces will work in the house. The houses are often quite frugal; they are not usually massive houses, but they have been carefully planned to be efficient.”

Ballantyne House, which came to market in 2016, is another outstanding example of Sir Miles’ work. It was designed in 1959 for the Ballantyne family of retailers.

The Ballantynes ​​launched the department store of the same name which is still going strong today. Ronald Ballantyne had already called on Sir Miles to design his stunning new store in the city and was ready to push the boundaries of tradition for his own family’s home in Fendalton.

Ballantyne House in Christchurch was designed in 1959 by Sir Miles Warren for the Ballantyne family who ran the Christchurch department store of the same name.

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Ballantyne House in Christchurch was designed in 1959 by Sir Miles Warren for the Ballantyne family who ran the Christchurch department store of the same name.

The streamlined architecture of Ballentyne House was well ahead of its time.

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The streamlined architecture of Ballentyne House was well ahead of its time.

Ballantyne House was the setting for the movie Kiwi The tilt, directed by Miranda Harcourt and Stuart McKenzie.

The owners who sold in 2016 had worked hard to bring it back to reflect the design aesthetic the architect established in 1959. Sir Miles Warren returned to see the restored house and said House magazine: “Never has a home been restored with such care and gentleness. It’s beautifully done – more carefully than the original.”

‘Sir Miles has given us a watercolor of the house painted when it was built, and the original plans, which will be passed on to the new owners,’ one of the owners said.

Wide openings and fully glazed walls were new ideas in the late 1950s.

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Wide openings and fully glazed walls were new ideas in the late 1950s.

And that was inside the Ballantyne house in 2016.

PROVIDED

And that was inside the Ballantyne house in 2016.

The 300 square meter house has the concrete block and timber frame construction that defined the modernist school of buildings in Christchurch.

“Miles describes it as essentially Danish in character – a square consisting of a living room, dining room and kitchen, with a long bedroom wing and a flat-roofed entrance link.”

A book on Christchurch Modernism produced in 2020 by Mary Gaudin and Matt Arnold (straightlinebook), presents several residential projects by the architect. The book, “I Never Met a Straight Line I Didn’t Like”, takes its title from a quote by Sir Miles Warren.

Sir Miles Warren was pictured inside Christchurch Town Hall in 2016.

John Kirk-Anderson / Stuff

Sir Miles Warren was pictured inside Christchurch Town Hall in 2016.

In an interview with Here’s Simon Farrell-Green, Arnold said he jokingly accused Sir Miles of never drawing a curved line for the first 30 years of his life: “The headline was his smiling response.”

Arnold also said: “Whenever a house of this style comes up for sale, open houses are exceptionally popular and the same faces are always there – architectural nutcases like me. We greet each other with an awkward nod and walk around in our socks pointing and saying things like ‘negative detail’ to no one in particular.”

These homes will continue to spark joy, not just for the lucky few who live there, but for all of us who see them, even if it’s only online or in print.

In his later years, Sir Miles lived at his historic 19th century property in Governors Bay, Ōhinetahi, which he offered to the New Zealand public in 2012.

Gerard Smyth/Frank Film

The original architect of Christchurch Town Hall, Sir Miles Warren, tours the restored Christchurch Town Hall ahead of its reopening. (Video first published in February 2019)