Miles Warren

b.1929, d.2022

Competition sketch for the Christchurch Town Hall

  • 1966
  • Watercolour
  • Presented by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, 2009
  • Reproduced with permission
  • 440 x 910mm
  • 2009/034
  • View on google maps

Ōtautahi Christchurch-born Sir Miles Warren (ONZ KBE FNZIA) was central to what became known as the ‘Christchurch School’ of architecture, an approach that combined the crisp clarity of Japanese and Scandinavian building traditions with the exposed structures of British Brutalism. As a young man he undertook an apprenticeship with Canterbury architect Cecil Wood before studying architecture at the University of Auckland, and later worked in London. Upon returning to Christchurch, he founded his own architectural practice in 1955, which – as the result of a partnership with Maurice Mahoney three years later – became Warren and Mahoney.

The firm applied their distinctive style to a range of buildings, from homes and offices to the Dental Nurses School (1958) and College House (1964). Their design for the Christchurch Town Hall, with its concrete columns and elliptical concert hall, was controversial when it opened in 1972, but is now seen by many as an outstanding example of post-war modernist architecture. It was extensively rebuilt following the 2010/11 Canterbury earthquakes and designated a Category 1 Historic Place in 2020. Other notable Warren and Mahoney buildings include the Michael Fowler Centre and Bowen House in Wellington and Auckland’s Television New Zealand building.

Sir Miles was also a keen watercolourist and avid gardener and Ōhinetahi, the formal Governors Bay garden on which he collaborated with Pauline and John Trengrove is considered to be of international significance. In 2012 Warren gave it, and the accompanying house, to the people of New Zealand.

(August 2022)

Exhibition History