Park Mews Apartments

Park Mews from above Ruahine Street.

Park Mews is a 30-apartment complex at 62 Moxham Avenue, notable for its unusual design which includes pointed roofs, round windows made from concrete pipe and quirky nooks and crannies. It was designed by architect Roger Walker and built in 1973. Some locals dubbed the building 'Noddytown' and and one critic described the style as "Disneyland Gothic" but the general reception was positive. The Evening Post described the complex: "Space-age architecture has come to Hataitai. There, the old weatherboard homes of a past generation have made way for what the real estate agents call 'a new dimension in living.'"

Units range in size from a 'bachelor flat' (a bedsit) to apartments with three bedrooms and a study. Each apartment was built to a slightly different plan, and most are on two levels. The Evening Post again: "For husbands who want to watch their wives do the housework while they laze in bed, some units have bedrooms virtually suspended above the living room on a wooden platform". Each ground-floor unit had its own small private garden and upper units had small balconies or decks, some of which have since been covered in and turned into conservatories. Then-modern features such as sound-proofing, underfloor heating and earthquake-proofing were included.

In 2018 the New Zealand Institute of Architects awarded Park Mews a "Wellington Enduring Architecture Award." The judges stated that "few buildings say 'Wellington' like Roger Walker's Park Mews." "This local landmark, with its signature turrets and portholes, is not just a talking point for those trekking through Hataitai to the airport; it is emblematic of a period of New Zealand architecture that shunned modernist norms in favour of a more radical approach."

The Stuff article reporting the award included the following two comments by owners of apartments in the complex:

"As an owner of one of these apartments, it is worth noting a few points. Firstly this complex fits 30 dwellings onto just three sites, which is a very efficient use of land. Most of the units have garden areas or large north facing balconies, the units are spacious and well designed with no overlooking and good sun. The variety of the roof shapes gives identity to each unit rather than each house being faceless in a uniform facade like many apartment buildings. The term noddy house is a superficial summary of an apartment complex which actually is very successful in many aspects. We could learn many lessons from it, not necessarily in terms of the quirky roofs and porthole windows but more in terms of the density, sophisticated interlinking of apartments and the private outdoor space afforded to the unit."

and

"I had one of these apartments for my daughter to live in, what a nightmare, it leaked from every conceivable corner, no matter what we did to fix it it still leaked, the place should be condemned. "

Sources:

Evening Post, 20 Jun 1973At home in New Zealand: House history people edited by Barbara Brookes.Long live the modern edited by Julia GatleySee also 'An essay on the critical response to 'Park Mews', a building by Roger Walker' by Thomas RogersArchitect Roger Walker's controversial 1973 mews project wins NZIA award, by Colleen Hawkes, 4 May 2018, https://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/homed/latest/103582083/architect-roger-walkers-controversial-1973-mews-project-wins-nzia-awardPark Mews (1973), New Zealand Instittute of Architects, https://www.nzia.co.nz/awards/local/award-detail/7689