All Saints’ new de­sign

The Tribune (NZ) - - FRONT PAGE - JA­NINE RANKIN

All Saints Church has come up with a less in­tru­sive de­sign for strength­en­ing and en­hanc­ing its prom­i­nent 104-year-old Palmer­ston North build­ing, af­ter ear­lier plans drew pub­lic crit­i­cism.

The earth­quake-prone build­ing has been closed for five years af­ter be­ing as­sessed as meet­ing only 3 per cent of new build­ing stan­dards.

Church build­ing ad­vi­sory board leader Vince Neall said af­ter rul­ing out de­mo­li­tion, the parish had been work­ing on plans to strengthen it, re­tain its her­itage fea­tures and make it more wel­com­ing.

De­signs re­leased for pub­lic com­ment in 2016 drew neg­a­tive re­sponses about the bold, modern, glazed com­mu­nity area pro­posed to wrap around the front and south­ern side of the his­toric brick build­ing.

‘‘This plan is prob­a­bly less in­tru­sive,’’ Neall said.

The de­sign, which will be pre­sented to a pub­lic meet­ing, moves the new covered en­trance away from the base of the tower, grant­ing unim­peded views of its struc­ture from The Square.

The com­mu­nal area would be smaller than first planned and in­cor­po­rate de­sign fea­tures rem­i­nis­cent of the jar­rah tim­ber beams in­side the church.

The only part of the church that would be sac­ri­ficed was the bap­tis­tery, which has not been used for about three decades.

Its stained-glass win­dows would be re-used, and its re­moval would al­low views from the street through the arches of the glazed new en­trance area and all the way to the east-fac­ing memo­rial stained-glass win­dow.

Vicar Nigel Dixon said the church wanted to use the op­por­tu­nity the re­quire­ment to strengthen the build­ing cre­ated to not only re­tain an im­por­tant ex­am­ple of the city’s her­itage, but to im­prove it in ways that en­hanced the church’s vi­sion to in­vite the com­mu­nity in.

‘‘As a re­sult of feed­back, we have an up­dated plan that is maybe less flam­boy­ant than the first, and is some­thing I think the city will love.’’

De­signer Matt Soong said Her­itage New Zealand had been sup­port­ive, but also chal­leng­ing about the changes to the build­ing.

That prompted in­ves­ti­ga­tions into whether the new en­trance should be at the side of the build­ing, but, ul­ti­mately, it was the de­sire to see into the build­ing from the street that won out.

Soong said sim­ply strength­en­ing the build­ing did not help re­alise the church’s de­sire to be more com­mu­nity-ori­en­tated.

Palmer­ston North peo­ple had a deep at­tach­ment to the build- ing and change could be chal­leng­ing, he said.

‘‘But we have an op­por­tu­nity to do some­thing here that is in­spi­ra­tional, maybe even pi­o­neer­ing.

‘‘We can pre­serve the existing build­ing and cre­ate some­thing beau­ti­ful that draws peo­ple in.’’

The strength­en­ing tech­niques, with ten­sioned wires down through the bricks, would be in­vis­i­ble once the work was done.

The roof would be re­placed, and there needed to be changes to the para­pets and pin­na­cles so there were no loose adorn­ments that could tum­ble down on to the street in an earth­quake.

The pro­ject has an es­ti­mated price tag of $6 million to $7m.

The church com­mu­nity had raised more than $1m so far, need­ing to achieve about $2.5m be­fore it would be el­i­gi­ble for gov­ern­ment and com­mu­nity trust grants.

Mem­bers of the pub­lic are in­vited to a meet­ing at the com­mu­nity cen­tre behind the church on Tues­day, May 15, at 7pm.

Feed­back will be welcome at the meet­ing.

PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The pro­posed new frontage of All Saints Church will al­low views into the church from the street.

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