A homecoming for Warren and Mahoney.
“It shows our commitment to the rebuild and is an acknowledgement that central Christchurch is still a vibrant, dynamic launch pad from which to do business.” Peter Marshall
Warren and Mahoney has moved to new premises in central Christchurch and, in so doing, the practice has come full circle. The property is on the same city block as the studio that founders Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney designed and occupied in 1962.
The three-storey building at 254 Montreal Street is a contemporary study in glass, steel, and concrete.
“It continues our tradition of producing strong and innovative architecture,” says Peter Marshall, managing director which has its roots in the city and has grown to be a significant force in Australasia with four studios in New Zealand and two in Australia.
Like the modernist and expressive block that housed the fledgling firm, the 3400-square-metre building makes a robust design statement on its corner site that embraces a raw materiality and honestly articulated structure, both internally and externally. A skylight that protrudes from the roof is reminiscent of the pitched gables of that original office.
Cross braces and dark-bronze louvres are featured on the semi-transparent façade which allows a physical and social engagement between the occupants of the building and the immediate community.
“It’s not just a glass box, but a studied mix of openness and enclosure that brings a more contemporary aesthetic but also deals with practical issues such as glare and solar gain,” says Peter.
The L-shaped form occupies a corner site and incorporates a café, along with three levels of commercial space. An under croft allows pedestrians to walk through the structure and provides access to the carpark.
Internally, the architectural studio demonstrates current workplace design thinking with flexible floor plates and a diversity of work and meeting spaces. An 8-metre wide ‘grand stair’ in the void between the two floors that the company occupies is a sculptural element. It provides open connectivitybetween floors and can also be used as terrace-style seating for presentations or a place for employees to meet and discuss ideas.
In a city with a rich tradition of design dialogue and debate, Montreal Street is reflective of the high quality of contemporary architecture that is integral to so much of the emerging CBD.
Returning to the heart of the city is a symbolic event for the company which will celebrate its 60th anniversary in October.
“It shows our commitment to the rebuild and is an acknowledgement that central Christchurch is still a vibrant, dynamic launch pad from which to do business,” says Peter.