Book explores new roles for old buildings

Recycled buildings the focus of new book

Last updated 12:29 05/12/2012
cottage landscape

HISTORIC: Mill Cottage in Akaroa, Canterbury's first water-driven flour mill, is now a bed and breakfast.

silo std
TOWER: Stuart and Angela Wright-Stow's grain silo on their Banks Peninsula property.

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A new book explores how an eclectic collection of old and historic New Zealand buildings have taken on new roles.

Lucinda Diack, marketing manager for the Architectural Designers of New Zealand, loved researching and writing Converted Houses - New Zealand architecture recycled, a beautifully illustrated book which involved visiting a fascinating and eclectic collection of buildings around the country.

"Kiwi ingenuity knows no bounds when it comes to salvaging a run-down building and breathing into it fresh life as a character-filled home," she writes.

"While the scale of such projects would dissuade all but the most committed and passionate renovator, the prize is a home that resembles no other."

Indeed it doesn't.

The homes featured here display an individuality and artistry all of their own.

It is refreshing to see creativity is still very much alive in a world too often dominated by bland and conventional buildings.

The book includes Stuart and Angela Wright-Stow's conversion work on a series of grain silos into accommodation units on their Banks Peninsula property.

The couple, who own and run the Little River Gallery, imported the silos from Canada.

A former Public Trust building, a chapel, a derelict train station, a schoolhouse-cum-church, a historic cottage once part of a water-driven flour mill and a petrol station, a council building and a cheese factory are also among the clever conversions.

Art, found objects, and whimsical touches lend colour and character.

One has to wonder whether the wholesale rush to eradicate so many heritage buildings and houses in Christchurch is entirely justified.

While new architecture has the potential to enhance the built landscape and inspire, old buildings are part of the nation's history and re-imagining them for today connects us to times gone by, providing context and continuity.

The imagination and dedication displayed in this fascinating book prove alternatives are possible and we don't all have to live the same way.

It can be done. 

Converted Houses - New Zealand architecture recycled, photography by Daniel Allen, text by Lucinda Diack, Penguin, 207pp, $65.

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