Philip Sherwood King 1921-2003


Philip Sherwood King was born in Wellington and joined the Dept of Housing Construction (later to become the Ministry of Works) just before World War 2. There he worked with (among others) Ernst Plischke, who was to prove influential in shaping the young draftsman's views on architecture. In 1945, when extensions to the airport at Rongotai were proposed, King was commissioned by the Wellington Junior Chamber of Commerce to draw up plans in competition to the Government architect, and it is in his drawings that we see the earliest specific proposals to extend the runway onto reclaimed land at Evans Bay. In 1945, King left the DHC. He spent some time in Dunedin, then joined the NZ Cooperative Dairy Company as an architectural assistant. In May 1950, he was granted associate status with the NZIA. Shortly after becoming registered he left NZCDC, first to travel overseas for the Festival of Britain in 1951 and then to set up in private practice. The early years of the practice were frustrating for King. He moved to Hamilton, but found the local architecture scene hard to break into. In 1954 he was joined in partnership by Ewen Christie, who had worked with him at the DHC and at the Dairy Company. The partnership did not last long and broke up with some acrimony in 1957. The practice received an award for the Swallow House in Auckland in 1955, but in truth this was Christie's work and largely completed before the partnership was formed.

In 1953, King designed and built his own home in Hamilton Parade. This was one of the earliest and most radical modernist houses in Hamilton, with a heated concrete pad floor, flat roof, glass curtain walls and an ingenious exoskeleton of oregon joists and steel pillars that supported the entire weight of the house. Demolished in 2010, the house still looked contemporary and proved never to have had a leak of any kind.

King's big breakthrough came in 1957 when he won the contract to design the research laboratory for MIRINZ at Ruakura. This was followed by the even larger Wool Research Lab at Lincoln in Christchurch. These remain the public highlights of a practice that was engaged to work on close to 500 projects of all sizes. In 1967, King abruptly moved to Australia, initially to Melbourne where he had a job as project manager for Civil & Civic. This proved a shortlived assignment, and the family moved to Perth. King returned to New Zealand in 1977 or 1978. Initially he lived in Dargaville, then moved to the shores of the Kaipara harbour where he built a second house for himself . In 1994, dogged by ill-health, he moved to Omokoroa, then to Katikati where he died in 2003. He did not resume his architectural practice in New Zealand after returning from Australia, apart from his own house at Paparoa.

List of Projects

Commercial Architecture

Residential Architecture

Public Architecture

Reference Sources

Built From the Roof Down : Philip King's 1953 Hamilton House. Tony Richardson. 2014.
ISBN 978-0-473-26297-6

Philip Sherwood King : Architecture 1952-1967. Tony Richardson. 2014.
ISBN 978-0-473-28042-0

A Roof Over His Head Comes First. NZ Herald, 13 Oct.1953

Housewarming. Homes of Hamilton. Hamilton News, 29 Apr.1954

Built From the Roof Down. Weekly News, 5 May 1954

Contemporary Homes Are Full of Gadgets, Colour. Waikato Times, 7 Aug.1954.

Perfect Link with Outdoor Living. B. Neville. in Australian Homemaker and Handyman, July 1955, pp.28-29.

Top Man Quits. D. Jensen in Waikato Times, 10 Aug.1967, p1.


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© Copyright Tony Richardson 2014