Project Description

In 2013 we were offered to travel down south to view a major renovation on a historic1881 run-down church on the outskirts of Christchurch. Our brief was to open the interior up to the full height colonial trusses, creating natural light into the building. Add bedrooms and ensuites, and bring the building into the 21st century. The church had to keep its original interior and exterior detailing but bring the building up to current code standards. Which was challenging as the Christchurch earthquake had only recently happened.


Design Features

The existing layout of the building was predominantly a single level dwelling with a storage mezzanine over. The centre atrium had a false ceiling infilled, blocking off from the exposed trusses over. By removing this, we opened up building to the full height exposed trusses and ceiling above. With the recent earthquake, a surplus of heritage building materials including, insulation, doors, windows, floorboards, tiles and even a safe gave new life to the Tai Tapu church. Re-using these items from soon to be demolished buildings, gave a new home to many items that would have been discarded. The silver lining created a sustainable method to be able to rebuild the church to its former glory.


The building envelope was plastered stucco with some tinted glass areas. The existing natural light into the building was minimal and to overcome this we created 4x new dormer roofs and a new main entry to the building. We designed these elements to blend in with the existing architectural features of the church. So there are no obvious separation between the old and the new.


A challenge we faced was the fire escape path lengths. We overcame this by adding in an additional stair case, that is discrete and not overwhelming to detract from the original baluster stairs that greet you at the entry.


When you enter, you are greeted with magnificent views of the homes extensive tinted glazing, high ceilings and exposed trusses. The glazing allows for natural light and colour to enter the home, providing light and warmth. The timber finishes and white walls blend in harmony with one another. The archway doors really pop out to give you the sense of the historic importance of this building that has survived all these years, and now plenty more to come.


Team Credits

Architecture: Daniel Cullen

Builders: Alan

Photographer: Adam Crouchley