John Mills Architects

Established 1990 

Greetings and welcome to the JMA website. We hope that you enjoy looking at our work and seeing what we do. JMA has been operating in Wellington, New Zealand since 1990. We have a distinctive aesthetic that seeks to combine our passion for materials and colour with a desire to create uniquely tailored architecture for the individual or specific organisation. We have completed projects around New Zealand, including Auckland and Nelson.

We endeavor to create architecture that speaks of its sites and surroundings, with grace, poetry and personality – unencumbered by blind conformity and dictates of transient fashion. We work together with clients and builders to craft beautiful forms and engaging spaces that make the heart leap and the soul sing.

Please enjoy our website and contact us with any enquiries.




We welcome potential clients to our Garrett Street studio for an initial meeting. This is a free and non-obligatory way for you to meet our team and discuss the aspects of your project that will determine how it will evolve.

Gather as much information about your project as you can, in terms of location, special features and any existing structures. Start thinking about what you would like to achieve (we’re talking wildest expectations here), and give us a call!



A successful building hinges on much more than a creative solution. It requires the collaboration of an enthusiastic client and a supportive architect who are both prepared to listen and to question!

Architecture requires good communication and open relationships to achieve a successful result: one that engages with the site and environment, while still expressing the individuality of the client. We’re here to respond to your needs and ideas – and to exceed your expectations.

At John Mills Architects we are not only responsible for the design, we prefer to be involved throughout the construction of the finished project. The process can be roughly broken down into the eight following phases below.

Our role includes liaising with builders, engineers and other consultants, administering the contract and observing construction….and we will also assist on the essential elements of joinery design, energy efficiency, appliance selection, furnishings, colours (we have won the Dulux award for best NZ residential interior three times), right through to landscaping.



Architecture is about creating lovely, robust and meaningful, spaces and forms made with purpose and delight, to SUSTAIN the needs of the occupants and evoke an enduring sense of homecoming and place.

It is the understanding of past and embracing the present, in order for future generations to discover, shelter, peace and belonging, unknowing of the original occupants, builders or architects.

Waste is not an option. No innovation abandons age old wisdom.

Dwellings should mature and improve with age. Materials should be fit for purpose, giving people the ABILITY to live comfortably, simply, and well, experiencing the joy of “home” daily.

Fashion is the enemy of art and is abandoned quickly with all the consequential waste. Choose art, choose quality, choose to build carefully and consciously.

Athield said it best ….”Build less, better”.



Initial meeting and brief delivery



CONSENTS & Working Drawing



information gathering & site analysis






Concept Design






Developed design



Completion & Feedback


” Our journey with John Mills Architects started with a run down fish factory that was housed within an old, original 1939 brick building in Petone. It was hard to see the potential at times  and did we really want to be involved with such a complicated process? John’s enthusiasm and creativity enabled us to envision the final result way before it happened. John and his team (Mark and Jason) were so helpful and patient with us and between us all the decisions were made.

The end result is so unbelievable and beautiful – it’s a secret, urban paradise that we could not have believed would ever eventuate. “ 

” John and his team were extremely professional in their approach, especially since it was an old 1963 warehouse!

 Having worked with him on a previous project, we knew he had the vision and skills to create a unique home for us using quality materials.  We worked together at all stages to realise this home and we are thrilled with the outcome.  

” Going into the renovation and extension of our Ian Athfield home, we knew we wanted to respect what was built in the past but we also wanted to make the house ours – not a pastiche of what Athfield designed at the time. John walked us through this process sensitively and helped coach us through the whole experience. We particularly enjoyed how he took time to get to know us, how we like to live, and the things we like to do and have in our lives.  

” We’d known John from twenty years ago, when he arranged the colours and designs for the interior of our restaurant in Wellington (Serrano’s). In the years since, we’d seen more of his great work pop up. It was an easy decision to trust John with conceptualising our extension dreams. We loved the way he approached our thinking and helped with the visualisation of our ideas.  

We had a great site with a 270 degree vista, located in the hills of Melrose in the eastern suburbs of Wellington. But one of us was a stripped-back modernist, while the other was a woody, whimsical romantic. What to do? We interviewed several architects without gelling…. but in-depth conversations with John Mills resulted in a design that reconciled our mutual desires.  

This is a great home to live in. It’s a pleasure coming up the driveway seeing the house bathed in all day sun, and the inviting deck. While many might not have seen how this property adapted to a unique living environment, John had that vision and we are reaping the benefits. This home is not replaceable; it is more than a home to us, it is now our lifestyle.  

Working with John is like collaborating with your best friend who knows everything about you, what you like and what you don’t. He will nudge you in the right direction if you seem to be getting too far away from exquisite taste. Your best friend loves to spend time with you, is kind, and always wants the best outcome for you, right? That’s John  

Our Mount Victoria home is the culmination of four years of enjoyable work led by John. From the initial discussion determining what we wanted, through the resource and building consent stages, and on to the construction, John guided the team through to the final completion of our renovated house, which has become the wonderful home that we love.  

Having had the pleasure of working with JMA in previous projects as the building contractor, it was a rewarding experience working with John to push each other and experiment a little on my own home. I was really pleased with the outcome our combined expertise created.  I am proud of the end result we created in collaboration.  Darryn Lyons, D A Lyons Building Contractors Limited  

” I enjoyed having John work with us to design our house. The original house was old and odd, and he really helped us transform it into something modern, open and really enjoyable to live in. He imparted some really unique design touches but also the elements that were important to me to help make it a very inviting and practical home. He is great to deal with and I really appreciated how well he conveyed his ideas and concepts to me, with artistic drawings and explanation. What resulted was a testament to his architectural design, Darryn’s building expertise and my few little ideas and desires – all culminating in a remarkable build.  

For a little more information

Information about local building rules and regulations can be found at the Wellington City Council website.

To find out more about working with architects, take a look at architecturenz.net – published by the New Zealand Institute of Architects.

John Mills Architects

21 Garrett Street,
Te Aro, Wellington 6011
+64 4 385 2255
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