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The Steeple

Auckland

The church was designed by Oliver Donnell, who was possibly influenced by Auckland City Council architects like Ernst Plischke from his work with New Zealand churches a decade earlier.

Church conversion

This home and office space of five years used to be a converted Baptist Church. Built in 1963 and after an extensive renovation, it is now described as a church conversion comprising four bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms and two living spaces. This is a classic conversion and change-of-use that demonstrates what is possible when converting any building, designed for another purpose, into a very different living arrangement.

The church was designed by Oliver Donnell, who was possibly influenced by Auckland City Council architects like Ernst Plischke from his work with New Zealand churches a decade earlier.

Living areas

The original interior of the church was very inwardly focused, as you would expect. The patterned glass – which  gives the effect of raindrops cascading down the panes – conceals any connection to the outside world. A number of patterned panes have been replaced with clear glass, which intensely frames the surrounding garden and glimpses of sky.

The additional decks and doors have allowed some of the existing 3.4 metre high windows to be relocated into the original administration annex. This space has been converted into a media room and concealed laundry storage wall. The original Axminster carpet has also been a spring board for the interior colour palette, which isn’t often used.

Bedrooms / Bathroom

The primary triad of colours – red, green and blue – reflected in the existing windows is reflected in a lively vertical striped wallpaper that accentuates the height of the entry space and connects to the upper floor bedrooms. In the main bedroom a highly burnt red, textured mosaic-like wallpaper strengthens the form of the building and also adds a great contrast to the green carpet.

Resene Oilskin, Resene Quarter Napa, Resene White Pointer, Resene Eighth Tana, Resene Alabaster, Resene Silver Aluminium and clear Resene Uracryl finish on the laminated beams and acoustic ceiling tiles provides an interesting neutral palette ready for the pops of accent colour.

One of the biggest challenges in the renovations was to re-introduce the secret stair down to the office. As a Baptist church, there was originally a small stair for getting changed after patrons were baptised in a large marble font. To reinstall this required moving the existing kitchen and adding further structure to the building.

The kitchen and stair that follows is quite successful. The plywood stair treads hang off the side of the building and are used daily, as this is the most direct route to the carport. They are a combination of structural gymnastics and a quirky material, normally used to fit off the back tray of a truck, hard wearing and non-slip.

Architectural Specifier: Malcolm Taylor, Xsite Architects
Painting Contractor: Precision Painters
Photographer: Simon Devitt
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2012

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