Miles Warren-designed Dorset Street flats restored

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga staff from the Christchurch office enjoyed a recent visit to the newly restored Dorset Street Flats.

A group of people enter the gate at the front of the Dorset Street flats property.
Public tour of Dorset Street Flats during Open Christchurch 2022. Photo: Sarah Rowlands Photography.expand/collapse

Listed as a Category 1 Historic Place on Rārangi Kōrero/The New Zealand Heritage List, these flats were designed by a young Miles Warren. Built from 1956-57, they launched an architectural style that came to be known as the ‘Christchurch School’ of post-war architecture and shaped national modernist architectural design for over two decades.

At the time of the Canterbury earthquakes, the flats were split between seven owners and five different insurance companies. With this complicated situation, the flats lay in limbo for several years. After insurance was settled and handed over to owners to self-manage, the project took a year of planning and has now been completed after two and a half years of construction.

These buildings are an important part of our national story in terms of design and architecture.
Dorset Street flats' courtyard with an autumnal tree.
Dorset Street Flats courtyard. Photo: Anne Williams - Port Hills Productions.expand/collapse

Owner of Sir Miles’ old flat, Craig Garlick, is thrilled to see such a positive outcome: "It's been a long slog, frustrating at times, but totally worth it to achieve such a great result. These buildings are such an important part of our national story in terms of design and architecture, and even in the way urban people chose to live."

Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Christchurch Area manager, Fiona Wykes, enjoyed seeing the interior restoration details during her visit. “It is fantastic to see the restoration of the built-in furniture that was such a part of Warren’s interest in total design as well as the clever incorporation of earthquake strengthening and modern living requirements.”

At the Recent Open Christchurch weekend, the public took up the rare opportunity to tour these unique flats with enthusiasm. And if you like the sound of living in a central city mid-century flat, several of the flats are now available to rent.

- Rosemary Baird