Following the last post: Beaven again wrote (with John Stacpoole) of the Dorset Street Flats in their 1972 survey of New Zealand architecture:
"In Christchurch at this time, as a result of favourable circumstances not available in the other main centres, a style and method of expression which could be used by all began to emerge. The close knit nature of the Christchurch community, the tradition of good building, the lack of ruthless progress and the availability of one or two good new materials combined to bring forth, in the Gould house at Methven and the Dorset Street Flats, both by Miles Warren, the first clear expression of a local contemporary architecture.
Warren and his partner, Mahoney, continued this architectural style in a number of important buildings. Christchurch College (1968) clearly shows the development of a simple structural idea - concrete block bearing walls like stone, in situ concrete beams, high ceilings and irregular roof shapes. This whole Christchurch aesthetic, the adherence to structural expressionism, traditional European values, and colonial functionalism, was a significant restatement of things which had been largely forgotten."
JOHN STACPOOLE and PETER BEAVEN, New Zealand Art: Architecture 1820-1970, A.H & A.W. Reed, 1972, ISBN 0-589-00475-1, p 75.
Peter Beaven was Miles Warren's closest contemporary in Christchurch - both having won the NZIA Gold Medal (Beaven in 2003, Warren in 1959, 1964, 1969 and 1973). Though four years older (his education having been interrupted by war service in the NZ Navy), both had attended the University of Auckland School of Architecture at the same time.
"I met Peter Beaven in the holidays when he was down from Auckland. He was full of excitement about the School of Architecture and urged me to come. He showed me a copy of a book on Mies van der Rohe. It was a revelation. I began to understand what I was missing." wrote Warren in his autobiography.
Beaven later wrote of Dorset Street Flats in an overview of South Island architecture, originally published in "Royal Institute Of British Architects Journal", September 1967:
"The other construction system widely employed is concrete masonry, reinforced against earthquake, left fairfaced inside and out, and tied together with fairfaced in situ concrete beams and slabs disposed to create voids and spaces within. The bearing clockwork and concrete beams give geometric grids of horizontals and verticals capable of much modelling. This system of construction dominates the smaller commercial projects and much housing work in the South Island, and many architects are capable of working imaginatively with it.
Miles Warren came back from England very early with an understanding of the brutalistic approach then vitalising the young architects. In some flats in Christchurch he used, in 1957, the fairfaced concrete structure: pierced openings, concrete used for ancillary detail, as found blocks, and finishes. The shattering first view of these flats, their statement of private urban living and their frank use of materials, was a revolution to New Zealand architects. We could see the future."
PETER BEAVEN, “South Island Architecture” (1967), “New Dreamland: Writing In New Zealand Architecture”, Douglas Lloyd Jenkins (ed), Godwit Random House, 2005, ISBN 1-86962-118-2, pp. 178-179.
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