Saving St James

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Pitt, Loren-Crystal
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Master of Architecture (Professional)
Unitec Institute of Technology
McConchie, Graeme
Jadresin-Milic, Renata
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
St James Church (Mount Eden, Auckland, N.Z.)
Mount Eden (Auckland, N.Z.)
Auckland (N.Z.)
New Zealand
adaptive reuse of buildings
heritage conservation
building adaptation
community engagement
ANZSRC Field of Research Code (2020)
Pitt, L.-C. (2021). Saving St James. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Architecture (Professional)). Unitec Institute of Technology, New Zealand.
RESEARCH QUESTION How can the abandoned St James Church in Mt Eden be preserved through adaptive reuse for a new, community-based programme? ABSTRACT The St James Church has stood proudly on the corner of Esplanade and View Rd in Mt Eden for the last one-hundred and twenty years. Built in 1900, the church has been a feature of the community’s history and development. Tragically in 2018, the adjacent heritage Sunday School Hall built in 1885 was burnt down by arson and since then, the church building has remained vacant and neglected due to structural unsoundness. The site has been the subject of debate within the community, many of whom were scandalised by the suspicious fire causing the loss of the hall. It is a valued and meaningful heritage building which is part of the Mt Eden area’s identity. After being sold several times and passed between developers, the St James Church remains neglected and vacant. Zoned for ‘Mixed Housing Urban’ in Auckland’s Unitary Plan, there have been propositions made by developers to convert it into luxury apartments with a new apartment block in the rear area of the site. The local community were rather critical of this plan and appear to believe that the conversion to luxury apartments and an apartment block would ruin the heritage value. Consequently, there was an opportunity to develop an alternate solution for the St James Church building and site. Through the repurposing of the church building and a new architectural response where the historic hall once stood, the site could be utilised for a community-based public programme once again. Using conservation principles, the palimpsest theory, and literature by heritage and conservation theorists as a guide, such as Salvador Munoz Vinas’ theory regarding minimum intervention; this project aimed to develop an appropriate programme as determined through the research to find the most suitable proposition to ‘save St James’.
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