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Acland House

Acland House is a complex of boarding facilities for Christchurch Girls’ High School. The centrepiece is the ‘Old House’ – a heritage listed home built in 1893.

TCA 2017 gallery photo

After the Old House sustained severe damage in the February 2011 earthquakes the CGHS Board of Trustees took the opportunity to strength the building and alter the internal layout to better suit their needs.

The east elevation was remodelled and extended to create the new entrance porch to emphasise the main entry. This was designed to complete the existing house. The reception and manager’s office was relocated to this area.


The original ground floor was redesigned to create a large dining hall, which could accommodate all 150 boarders at once. In addition, the commercial kitchen and back-of-house facilities were reconfigured and now include a large servery. The first floor was completely renovated to house dormitories for twenty-five Year 9 students, bathroom facilities and a small flat.

A Resource Consent was required due to the heritage classification and Dalman Architects worked in consultation with Council planners and heritage architect, Dave Pearson, to ensure historic elements were carefully salvaged and reused, including moving a staircase to the opposite side of the building. New elements were designed to be sympathetic to the historic fabric. Moulds were taken of the existing ornate plaster cornices and replicas were made. All existing timber doors and mouldings were salvaged and reused and new fire doors were made to replicate the heritage doors.


A series of steel portal frames on the ground floor were installed to replace walls that were removed and sophisticated colour scheme and plaster linings (which were severely damaged) for the exterior and it were removed and replaced with plywood bracing needed to complementand plasterboard bracing linings. The foundations were also significantly strengthened.

The clients wanted a sophisticated colour scheme for the exterior and it needed to complement other buildings on site. Resene Lumbersider low sheen waterborne paint in Resene Cararra (off-white cream) is used for the weatherboards partnered with Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in Resene Pravda (sober beige) and Resene Half Pravda (grey brown) on trim and joinery. The red front door was custom made for this project finished in Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel in a tailormade red, and marks the entry and ties in with the brick buildings on site. Other doors are in Resene Diesel (dark black red). The deck is finished in Resene Non-Skid Deck & Path Beaten Track (mid tone neutral) to reduce the risk of slipping as students move around the building.

Victorian home interior

On the interior, Resene Drought (dusty beige), homely Resene Half Parchment (stony beige) and Resene Quarter Parchment (pearly grey) are warm neutrals creating an inviting blend with the kauri floor, existing leadlight windows and rich dark curtains used on the ground floor. These are joined by Resene Half Wheatfield (bone white) and Resene Quarter Wheatfield (sharp cream white) to continue the warm wrap of neutrals. General interior wall areas are finished in Resene Zylone Sheen for its low sheen finish and low VOC. Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen Alabaster (blackened white) is used for added durability in service areas, and Resene SpaceCote Kitchen & Bathroom in Resene Cararra (walls) and Resene Half Cararra (gauzy off-white on ceilings) with anti-bacterial silver and MoulDefender for extra protection in wet areas. All are teamed with Resene Lustacryl semi-gloss waterborne enamel on trim and joinery. The products and colours provide a soft backdrop to showcase the heritage features.

Victorian home staircase

In the dormitories Resene Half Wheatfield and Resene Quarter Wheatfield provide a warm backdrop, which allows students to personalise their spaces with bedding and possessions.

The kitchen ceiling is finished in Resene Aquapoxy for hygiene and washability. Resene Polythane is used on the timber floor throughout for durability in these high traffic areas. Existing wooden skirtings, architraves and doors were carefully stored and reused. New timber was stained using a custom blend of Resene Colorwood to match the existing, before all were finished in Resene Qristal Clear satin polyurethane.

A Victorian home interior

Dalman Architects researched the likely original colours using historic records. Based on the Resene heritage palette it was likely to be dark tan/ochre with chocolate brown trim. The clients didn’t think these colours would be well received by the students, so a new combination was chosen to respect the age and architecture of the building but acknowledge that time moves on and fashions change. The new colour palette beautifully dresses this building, while still appealing to the tastes of the current student population.

This project won the Resene Total Colour Heritage Award.

The judges said: “This project is a grand building handled with confidence and beauty. The colours are empathetic to the architecture, yet still appealing to the students that use the space in the modern day so that they too appreciate that heritage is worth saving and has a place in today’s world. The colour palette is thoughtful and respectful of the building, which deserves survival. With a restrained colour palette, the architecture isn’t just highlighted, it is enhanced.”

Architectural specifier: Dalman Architects
Building contractor: Simon Construction
Client: Christchurch Girls’ High School Board of Trustees
Painting contractor: Spencer Painters & Decorators
Photographer: Stephen Goodenough
Winner: Resene Total Colour Heritage Award
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2017
From the Resene News – issue 3/2018

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