Mid Century Modern was an international movement. So what did MCM look like in other parts of the world like, say, Christchurch, New Zealand? Maybe you haven’t wondered about Mid Century Modern in Christchurch, but now that we’ve posed the question, we think you’ll find this worth a look. Mary Gaudin and Matthew Arnold explore this period of Christchurch’s architectural history in their book I never met a straight line I didn’t like.
Mid Century Modern, Christchurch Style
In their introduction, Mary Gaudin and Matthew Arnold write, “In the 1960s a small conservative city at the bottom of the world exploded with a creative force that developed into a recognisable and distinct style”—Christchurch Style. Sadly, many of these buildings were destroyed in earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. In their book, Mary Gaudin and Matthew Arnold capture and celebrate some of the remaining instances of the style designed by 12 different architects.
B Jones House, 1968
According to author Matthew Arnold, architect Ian Athfield was trained in but not afraid to depart from the Christchurch school of design. The home he designed for himself, for instance, “resembled a post-modern Grecian village,” Arnold writes, “an assemblage of white plastered angles in motion, pitching and rolling down a hill. It was, and still is, completely bewildering to most.”
When Athfield was commissioned by Bruce Jones, his former rowing coach, to design the Jones house, however, he returned to his Christchurch roots. Still, Arnold observes, “Athfield injects his whimsy with asymmetrical, shaved rooflines, circular pipe vents and varied internal spaces which gives the home an overall more playful tune.”
The 1964 J Messervy House
Designed by architect Allan Mitchener, the two-story Messervy house enjoys the indoor-outdoor connection characteristic of Mid Century Modern with ample sunlight with glass on three sides, sliding doors that open onto a courtyard, and a double-height living room. Author Matthew Arnold writes of this 1964 house, “The house uses the familiar materials of the Christchurch School—white painted concrete block, fair face concrete and timber detailing—yet it has its own, distinct personality and ideas.”
To see more instances of Mid Century Modern architecture in Christchurch, purchase your copy of I never met a straight line I didn’t like here.
If you’re fleshing out your dream itinerary to New Zealand, don’t miss our article Camp In A Retro Trailer—In New Zealand.