Saving All Saints old and new

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE -

Plans to build a new, mod­ern foyer in front of Palmer­ston North’s his­toric All Saints church have pro­voked a flurry of com­mu­nity con­dem­na­tion.

Awa­puni res­i­dent Vi­viana Ar­ria­gada said on Neigh­bourly that it was ugly, cov­er­ing the beau­ti­ful front of the church.

On the other hand, Jor­dan Tay­lor from High­bury-West­brook said while it was a shock at first, it would look great.

All Saints priest John Horn­blow said he had re­ceived com­ments rang­ing from ‘‘hor­ren­dous’’ to ‘‘awe­some’’.

The par­ish un­veiled its $5m plan to pre­serve the cen­tury-old brick church, re­move the bap­tis­tery wall, and build a new glazed en­trance and cov­ered gath­er­ing area out the front at the week­end.

The build­ing has been closed to the pub­lic for more than three years after be­ing as­sessed as earth­quake prone.

The con­cept plans in­clude earth­quake strength­en­ing that will pre­serve the in­te­rior of the church, in­clud­ing the World War 1 me­mo­rial stained glass east win­dow, and the pipe or­gan.

Newly ap­pointed par­ish leader Nigel Dixon said 75 per cent of the con­gre­ga­tion had picked the con­cept from a choice of three.

He de­scribed it as ‘‘a lit­tle bit out there’’.

But Her­itage New Zealand would not support ad­di­tions that tried to blend in with the her­itage fea­tures of the build­ing.

‘‘It has to be dis­tinc­tively dif­fer­ent, and we have a choice to do that in a way that is iconic, or bor­ing.

‘‘Might chal­lenge some peo­ple’s views about what a church ‘should’ look like’’ Ali­son Danger­field, Her­itage NZ

‘‘I don’t think Palmer­ston North needs more bor­ing.’’

The tech­niques se­lected for pre­serv­ing and strength­en­ing the tower would re­strict ac­cess through the door at its base, com­pound­ing the need for a new en­trance.

Dixon said he was keen to let more light into the church’s dark in­te­rior, and let peo­ple walk­ing past see in.

The glassed front was likely to ex­tend around the cor­ner along the south wall of the church, cre­at­ing an ad­di­tional gallery area where peo­ple could meet.

Palmer­ston North mayor Grant Smith said at the un­veil­ing that All Saints was ‘‘a beau­ti­ful church’’, that had played a vi­tal role in the com­mu­nity for more than a cen­tury.

He said the church held mem­o­ries that were price­less.

It would have been dev­as­tat­ing if the par­ish had de­cided to de­mol­ish it.

Her­itage New Zealand Cen­tral Re­gion her­itage ad­viser for ar­chi­tec­ture Ali­son Danger­field said the ad­di­tions might chal­lenge some peo­ple’s views about what a church ‘‘should’’ look like.

She was de­lighted with the de­ci­sion to strengthen the church, and ‘‘at ease’’ with the flam­boy­ant and dy­namic en­trance foyer.

Con­cept plans for a new en­trance to All Saints church that pro­vide shel­ter and light.

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