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