A cottage reborn

A cottage reborn add

A little inner-city workers' cottage in Christchurch, once home to a 20th century suffragette, is now completely rebuilt and hosting visitors from around the world.

The cottage was once home to Agnes Corlett (1849-1924), who is on record signing a petition to Parliament requesting women aged '21 years and upwards' and 'resident in the Colony of New Zealand' have the franchise extended to allow them to vote.

Irreparably damaged by the 22 February Canterbury earthquake, the modest 74m2 two-bedroom home was required to be rebuilt exactly within the original building envelope on its 200m2 site.

While plenty was salvaged from the original home and reinstated - including all the interior doors, some interior joinery, feature lights and the original vanity with copper waste trap - much of the decaying heart rimu was uneconomic to repurpose.

'While there is a growing movement around the world toward salvaging and reusing material, in New Zealand the most expensive part of building currently is the labour. So sadly, it's not always economic to reuse material as the labour costs escalate very quickly,' says Mitchell Coll, director of Coll Architecture.

'Because the owners were committed to reusing what they could, it was really cool to have the opportunity to be able to repurpose materials from the old home.'

Mitchell says the Chester Street project was one of the first homes in Christchurch to be 'written off' and rebuilt due to the earthquakes, making it a unique project to work on. But being first off the rank meant the consents process was very slow. Coll Architecture has worked on around 20 rebuilds since.

'The owners wanted to rebuild with the same character the original house had, but make the most of the opportunity to modernise the layout and room sizes. It now has all the modern comforts such as improved floor layout and insulation. Replica interior trims were fitted and solid timber flooring was laid. New fire walls to the east and west boundaries are double insulated and its insulation is now well above code. That, along with the large north facing doors and windows, gives a much more comfortable temperature to the interior spaces', says Mitchell.

The newly rebuilt worker's cottage opened for guests in December 2014.

If you are interested in experiencing the charm of the original workers' cottage with the warmth and convenience of a new build, Entwhistle Cottage can be viewed and booked online.

Click here to see more of Mitchell’s projects and for contact information.