A warm balmy evening enabled Friends to gather in the courtyard of College House to admire this striking example of modernist architecture. Opened in 1966 College House, a residence for University of Canterbury students, is one of Sir Miles Warren’s most important contributions to his long list of Christchurch buildings.

After a delicious dinner in the College’s dining room we gathered in the adjoining administration block and common rooms to hear more of its history. The term “College House” was adopted in 1882 when the then Canterbury College’s residential college moved to a site in the central city. In the early 1960s, when the University of Canterbury moved to Ilam, College House followed.The white concrete block buildings, including a distinctive chapel and library, were designed by Warren and Mahoney around a large grass courtyard.

Alec Bruce of the architectural firm, Wilkie and Bruce, praised the bravery and vision of the design which enabled students to engage easily with each other. Wilkie and Bruce have added two new houses plus several other buildings to the college. Funds are currently being raised to renovate and reopen the chapel which was damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes.

An impressive collection of art by some of New Zealand’s foremost artists has been purchased by the college since 1981 and was admired by the Friends throughout the evening.

Anabright Hay
Member, Friends of Te Papa