Down a long driveway at 888 Colombo Street is the old Dental Nurses Training School - a brutalist structure built in 1958-59. The young Miles Warren had received the commission to build the complex, despite his relative inexperience, and immediately saw the need for help. He called upon his old student colleague Maurice Mahoney, and thus the partnership of Warren & Mahoney was formed. The school became their first official project.
Sir Miles describes the building in his autobiography:
“There were three main elements to the building: two large clinics , with rows of dental chairs; office and services; and classrooms. These were arranged in a U, with an entrance between the blocks. The two clinics were given a V-shaped roof, with high exterior walls allowing the entry of good sun-filled light. Flat roofs were provided for the offices and services, and the classrooms in the other wing were given a half-V roof. The baldness of the form, with no projecting eaves, and the careful abstract pattern of the windows, reflected British architectural trends of the time.”
The concrete block structure follows that of the Dorset Street Flats (1956-57), though the large windows give a delicacy missing from the more solid flats and later houses. The complex won the NZIA Gold Medal in 1959.
Having been in private ownership for a number of years, operating as a training academy, the site is cluttered with some unsympathetic outbuildings, but the growth of surrounding trees has softened the site, with the small courtyard having a particularly restful atmosphere.
The site has been split into two titles, with the mansion on one, and the remainder on the other, and the private tender closes on Thursday 17 March. Here’s hoping for a sympathetic buyer.