Historic grain store building in Timaru to be transformed into health hub
One of Timaru's oldest buildings is set to receive a new - healthy - lease on life.
The 127-year-old Canterbury Farmers' Co-operative grain and wool store on Heaton St is to be renovated and transformed into a health club.
The transformation, helped along by ideas from students from the Ara Institute of Technology, is the focus of owners Tim Bean and Anne Laing.
The pair returned to Timaru, after living in London for 16 years, with a plan to develop a central wrap-around health centre.
They hoped it would provide a workout environment and a variety of health-focused services, all with access to health and fitness professionals, Laing said.
They had combined experience working in health and fitness overseas and wanted to translate that into a world-class health club in Timaru, they said.
The building was constructed in 1882 and expanded ten years later. It is just over 4000 square metres in size and has housed a gym since the 1990s.
"It's a lovely old building," Laing said.
The disused basement floor, which is level with the railway line, still has chutes which used to carry sacks of grain. Wood panels cover rail tracks inside.
The upper floor, accessible from Heaton St, was used as a gym, a taekwondo studio, and an architecture firm.
Laing and Bean recently offered the building as a "live exercise" for students studying architecture at the Ara Institute of Canterbury
"Instead of having one architect with one idea, we have 18 students who are fresh, creative, and they have been taught the latest in techniques and materials," Bean said.
Both said it was a joy working with them and the energy they brought to the project. Their work was up to professional standards, he said.
"We've seen some amazing ideas ... there's one where they propose a tram line built in, as the downstairs basement had existing rail tracks."
Other ideas included demolishing the north part of the building and building geo-dome with a floating walkway, a climbing wall, a garden wall, and roof-top garden.
Tutor Irene Boles said it was a good experience for everyone involved.
"The students loved it, the outcomes were outstanding, and the learning very precious."
However, both developers were realistic about the project as transforming the building would take a long time.
"We haven't got rose coloured glasses." Laing said.
A final design which incorporated the students' ideas had yet to be decided: there remained more "ground work" to do.