Peter Middleton

(1917 – 1996)- English born and trained (Nottinghamshire) architect and designer.

Worked in various practices including the London City Council before taking lecturing position at Auckland (1950).

Upon his arrival in New Zealand, Middleton noted that Auckland was unlike almost any city he had seen,  in that there were a score or more of ‘modern’, rather than International Style houses being built by the local architecture fraternity.  Many of  these  would come to be associates and friends like Mick Cutter, Imi Porsolt, Michael Brett, Ed Lawry and Arnold Neal; others such as ‘on and off students’ Dick Hobin and Henry James (Structural Developments) Vic Youl and Ross MacLean are also mentioned. Middleton’s background and influences were ‘modern’ but not International as such. He references the works of Swedish and American architects and designers over the achievements of the better known like Gropius. His interest was in ‘functionalism’ rather than modern architecture, and found the modest and stylish suburban houses like Arne Jakobsen’s in Klampenborg, Demark , or Erskine and Markelius’s work in Sweden closer to his own ideas (‘The New Empiricism’; Architectural Review, 1947). Le Corbusier’s ‘le Petite Maison’ was another European work which appealled, though this was offset by the designs of Americans like Albert Henry Hill and Harwell Hamilton Harris who were ‘exploiting another vernacular’ – which had some similarities to the work of Gordon Drake, and was influential here amongst architects like ‘the Group’.

From early in the decade Middleton began writing articles in ‘Home & Building’, initially related to areas of design. “Industrial Art Exhibited at Aucklands Carnival” (Feb. 1952)  is an overview of a display organised by the Adult Education Centre, and featured the furniture and smaller works of many local designers and architects such as members of ‘the Group’, Brenner Associates, Michael Brett, Dick Hobin and Renata Prinz. In the next months issue Middleton’s article is on ‘Industrial Design in America’. Later articles would look at the role of education in architecture and unit housing..  Middletons forays into domestic architecture in New Zealand produced several interesting buildings, the Becroft house designed with Harry Turbott in 1962 now being perhaps the most known in Auckland, although earlier works had gained awards (Latch house – Bronze Medal, 1956) and noteriety (Middleton house – 50 Grafton Rd; finials on a ‘modern’ house..!).

to be cont…

: A short article on the Lomas house also appears in ‘Home’ magazine (Oct-Nov 2010)

Cantley house, Middleton house (Grafton Rd), Becroft house (1962 -63,Takapuna), Blomfield house, (Titirangi, 1960), Latch house(1956-Northcote), Lomas house (1955- Hamilton).