De­sign note­book

Q&A with ar­chi­tect Mau­rice Ma­honey

HOME Magazine NZ - - Design Notebook -

How badly was the orig­i­nal house dam­aged in the earth­quakes?

The orig­i­nal house and garage were se­ri­ously af­fected by liq­ue­fac­tion. The house sank 350mm and the garage 450mm. The garage was also af­fected by ground dis­place­ment, it moved 400mm. The block­work walls of the house cracked in many places and so did the brick­work of the two chim­neys (but they re­mained stand­ing un­til we had them taken down for safety rea­sons). The win­dows jammed and would not open. The drains (old clay pipes) were all bro­ken and the un­der­ground power ca­bles in the street were bro­ken. We had no power for six weeks and no sewage for five months – a chem­i­cal toi­let in­stead. We con­tin­ued to live in the house un­til it was about to be de­mol­ished.

What was the re­sponse from your fam­ily when you de­cided to re-imag­ine the old place rather than start with a new de­sign?

The fam­ily re­sponse to the re­build scheme was, “Great, we love it.”

De­mo­li­tion day must still have been a sad one?

Yes, de­mo­li­tion day was very sad in­deed but so was see­ing so many of our firm’s ma­jor build­ings come down. Some that I’d spent five years each in doc­u­ment­ing, deal­ing with spe­cial­ist con­sul­tants, coun­cil and builders and over­see­ing through to com­ple­tion, plus han­dling all the pa­per­work en­tailed in mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar projects. All for noth­ing, thanks to the quakes.

Your builders painstak­ingly saved parts of the house for re-use. Why haven’t more build­ings in Christchurch been taken apart like this?

It is no doubt ar­gued that in many cases it was too dan­ger­ous to go into dam­aged build­ings to re­cover ma­te­ri­als from them. Ei­ther that or it was too costly to spend time re­cov­er­ing ma­te­ri­als for re­use. My builders saved stuff be­cause I in­structed them to do so – and that work was in­cluded in the con­tract.

Would you change any­thing in the house now?

There is one thing I wish I had done dif­fer­ently: to make the door be­tween the en­trance hall and the din­ing room a slid­ing door in­stead of re­tain­ing it as a dou­ble-ac­tion swing­ing door as orig­i­nal. But it is too late now.

1. Study 2. Bath­room 3. Bed­room 4. Pantry 5. Laun­dry 6. Kitchen 7. Din­ing 8. Sun­room 9. En­try 10. Liv­ing

Far right Framed ar­chi­tec­tural plans for Welling­ton par­lia­ment build­ings hang in Ma­honey’s of­fice.

Right In be­tween Ma­honey’s draw­ing board with house plans and im­mac­u­lately ar­ranged desk sits the card­board file for the re­build of his home.

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