Dorset Street Flats
Dorset Street, Christchurch
Designed by Miles Warren
Designed and built: 1956-1957
Designed by Miles Warren on his return from London and from the Architects’ Department of the London County Council, these flats introduced a new kind of detailing to New Zealand domestic architecture, based on English New Brutalism.
The building consists of two offset groups of four flats, each group bisected by a clearly articulated external stair with open risers. The construction is of concrete block walls set on a concrete ground slab; concrete beams support the concrete slab of the upper level floor. Low-pitched, timber-framed roofs clad with corrugated iron are designed without eaves. The building’s clear tectonic order is articulated in detailing and material finishes.
The ground-level flats open onto lushly-planted gardens with brick-paved terraces and enclosed by concrete block walls. Upper-level flats have balconies recessed behind the main wall-plane. Together with the central slot for the external stair in each group of flats, the balcony recesses produce deep shadows that enliven the façade. Conceived as economical ‘bachelor’ flats, each with an area of around 45 square metres, the interiors have an open plan with an inserted bathroom box articulating three subspaces for kitchen, living and bed.
JULIA GATLEY (ed), “Long LIve The Modern: New Zealand’s New Architecture 1904-1984”, Auckland University Press, 2008, ISBN 978-1-86940-415-4, pp 80-81.
Reproduced with the permission of the author and publisher.