Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

Thanks for our studio Sir Miles: HMOA Christchurch designed by Miles Warren


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Our Christchurch team has the joy of working out of 65 Cambridge Tce, designed by Sir Miles Warren in 1962 as his home and office (for Warren and Mahoney). Christchurch director Duval O'Neill shares his passion for the building.

How did HMOA come to be at 65 Cambridge Tce? 

When we first set up the Christchurch studio, I was on my own and Ian Athfield kindly suggested I could share some of Athfield Architects' space.

It was such a collegial gesture, but second nature to Ath.

I was literally pitched up in the middle of their office with my computer monitor, which was the size of a small fridge back then. It was a predominantly blokey environment in those days, so the cricket coverage was always on.

After a couple of months, Sir Miles’ original studio apartment became available way up on the top floor so I set-up office there using his original lectern as my desk.

It was a little isolating being on my own but there were plenty of visitors keen to venture up the very narrow, steep stairs.

Why is the building so special?

The building is Sir Miles’ original home and it's such an iconic piece of Christchurch modernist history. It has so much history and is a constant source of inspiration.

You realise just how special the building is when you see how many passersby stop to photograph it, or just to take it in.

I love our own studio space as it is double-height and looks out over the Avon River. Being south-lit, it is the perfect drawing studio, despite the prevalence of CAD workstations.

It's difficult to imagine working anywhere else, it's a privilege to be here. Even when space is a premium, it just feels right for us.

Who do you share the building with now?

We still share with Athfield Architects. Rebecca, the office manager, kindly includes HMOA in combined morning teas and trade celebrations, it is all very collegial. We also get together on social occasions which is great.

Robert Watson Landscape Architects is also in the building, and also presides over the beautiful secret garden and pond at the back of the building. Robert marks Christmas with mince pies from his secret source.

Tell us about the garden

The garden is original, with a long reflection pond as the centerpiece. There are some beautiful established trees which means we have lots of birds visiting from nearby Hagley Park.

A gallery space, built as an alteration in the eighties, runs along one edge and now accommodates the local branch of the NZIA. It's the perfect spot for a party and in fact we'll be having the HMOA Christmas party there very soon, with the Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington and Christchurch studios all coming together.  

Has Sir Miles Warren visited since you've been there?

Yes, we've had a number of visits from Sir Miles, although less frequently since the earthquakes. I always make sure our younger staff take note of his visits ...

... he is after all one the greatest stalwarts of Christchurch modernism and deserves a lot of respect.

Photos: Russell Kleyn

HMOA Christchurch Architects' studio
Christchurch architects HMOA studio by Sir MIles Warren
Christchurch architects HMOA studio by Sir MIles Warren
HMOA Office