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Built in 1883, the Wesley Church is situated in the heart of the busy seaside suburb of Petone, in Lower Hutt. The building fell into disuse in 2013 when it was declared an earthquake risk. Our client purchased it a few years ago with hopes that it could once again become a source of pride within the community. Restored colonial villas in the Auckland suburb of Ponsonby inspired the building’s transformation into three luxury two-storey residences.   


The exterior of the building has been completely restored to its original form. The structure had to be rebuilt from the ground up as the only salvageable materials were the roof trusses and some ceiling panelling. We worked closely with Heritage New Zealand when designing the extension to the building to accommodate the third apartment.


Each residence contains three bedrooms, two bathrooms, an open-plan living, kitchen and dining area and a single garage.  


Our design needed to represent the original church, with a clear distinction between old and new now evident in the rear residence.


The front façade was restored based on historical records and photos. Timber features have been used throughout, creating a sense of grandeur commonly associated with traditional churches.


The original leadlight windows were moved from the eastern end of the building and are featured in each apartment. All other windows were custom made in double glazing to replicate the originals.


Each residence has a point of difference. The front apartment retains much of the character of the old church. The middle apartment has a large void created over the entrance to give the impression of space and allow light to filter down to the ground floor. The rear apartment utilises the outdoor courtyard to connect with the living, kitchen and dining space. While the exterior of this apartment has a modern design, the interior continues the same roofline as the original church, making for a seamless transition.


Limitations when working within the existing church envelope and district plan requirements meant that outdoor living spaces had to be cleverly created and carefully placed, as did the automated skylights incorporated to let in extra light.


The Wesley Residences gained multiple awards in 2019:


Architectural Designers NZ:

  • National Finalist – Residential Multi-Unit Dwelling


Registered Master Builders House of the Year:

  • National Supreme Winner (Renovation over $1m)

  • National Category Award

  • Gold Reserve Finalises

  • Gold Award

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