Heritage designs for the future inspire students

2 November 2015

Victoria University architecture students have been considering the future of Manners Street and Courtenay Place’s heritage buildings, and their designs will be on public display from tomorrow at Reading Courtenay.

Courtenay Place 1927 (Ref: PAColl-5744-20. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington).

Courtenay Place 1927 (Ref: PAColl-5744-20. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington)


The 45 fourth-year students working on the project will exhibit a model of Manners Street and Courtenay Place accompanied by images of designs rethinking the area and the approach to heritage architecture in New Zealand.

The project is the third for VUW architecture students following the success of similar ones in Cuba Street and Newtown – and the third collaborating with Wellington City Council and Heritage New Zealand.

Mayor of Wellington Celia Wade-Brown says Council staff worked closely with the students, liaising with property owners, providing engineering support, advice on urban design, and access to building plans and infrastructure information through Council archives.

“The project is an outstanding example of collaboration between the Capital and Victoria University,” she says. “The display by students shows talent, imagination, and a real sense of place.”

Each student was allocated a building and asked to come up with a design that takes into account seismic resilience as well as refurbishment and regeneration, according to VUW Associate Professor Andrew Charleson.

“These projects are a great partnership between us, the Council and Heritage New Zealand, and a great opportunity for students to engage with a real architectural issue in a real urban context and in doing so, promote discussion in the community about the shape of our city,” says Andrew.

Students tested ideas of architectural heritage through re-designing buildings in the Manners St and Courtenay Place heritage precinct, resulting in a student vision for the future of the city.

Heritage New Zealand's Central Region General Manager Claire Craig says they are pleased to be working in collaboration again with Victoria University and the Council on this heritage project.

"We are very encouraging of practical design solutions for heritage buildings challenged by seismicity, and these projects can make interesting contributions to our thinking on this, not only within Wellington City, but beyond in other regions where heritage buildings are at risk.”

Property owners and the public will be able to access the student’s seismic retrofitting reports through the School of Architecture library.

There are 32 buildings in the Courtenay Place and Manners Street area that are currently on the Wellington City District Plan’s heritage list, including the St James Theatre (1912), Paramount Building (1910-1919), Courtenay Chambers (1920), James Smith Building (1907), and the Opera House (1912).

The exhibition will be officially launched at 6pm on Tuesday and can be viewed on the ground floor of Reading Courtenay (100 Courtenay Place, Wellington) during opening hours from 6pm on Tuesday 3 November – Friday 6 November.