Saving History

Saving History add

There's nothing quite like restoring an older building to its former glory, or adding a few modern touches. For Christchurch ADNZ life member Ian Cumberpatch, these kinds of projects are challenging, enjoyable and rewarding.

This week Defign sat down with Ian to hear all about his work on, and passion for, heritage buildings.

Ian's love of architecture started when he was in high school. He was particularly interested in technical drawing and gained a cadetship with the Ministry of Works as an Architectural Draughtsman before working for an architect in a private practice. This early experience combined with his extramural study at the University of Auckland paved the way for Ian's career in his own private practice.

Ian's practice undertakes a wide range of architectural projects and specialises in residential architecture, including new homes, alterations, additions and renovations. He has completed a number of heritage and character projects.

"It's all about the craft of the past. I've always had an interest in older buildings which was reinforced when I did my first OE to Europe and experienced carefully crafted buildings, many hundreds of years old, that have survived the test of time."

Ian has seen a large increase in heritage projects in the post-earthquake Canterbury environment. While some older buildings survived the shaking, others were not so lucky with many damaged beyond repair.

Ian believes that where possible, it is important to preserve Canterbury's unique architectural heritage, both historic and modern.

"I think it's really important to retain as many buildings and places as we can as they are part of our social history. We have to consider their values from a commercial perspective - these should be buildings that can be used in a modern context."

One of Ian's favourite heritage projects was the saving of the historically listed 'Knocklynn'. He became involved with the large 2 storey triple brick homestead immediately after the September 2010 earthquakes.

"It was a big project that we worked on for about two years. It was challenging as we had to not only fix what was broken but also put a structure into the building to ensure its future insurability and value. This was challenging as it was built in 1892 and had no real existing structural integrity."

For Ian, it was also important to retain the building's original aesthetic.

"We wanted to maintain the building's detailing so it looked as it did before it was damaged and subsequently repaired" he says.

On a smaller scale Ian worked on the restoration of the 'Captains Cottage' - a two storey house in Gore Bay.

"This was a much smaller project - a delightful little place. The owner had already started work on the foundations and engaged us to design and document new foundations, chimney rebuild and a single storey addition. It's a project I have really enjoyed."

It’s one of Ian's more long-term projects - the work is ongoing and has been for the last seven to eight years.

While restorations are certainly rewarding they are also challenging.

"Sometimes the original planning of these homes isn't what people require today. Previously, people planned houses for the way they looked from the road as opposed to their orientation to the sun and geographical features of the site. I have found that people own heritage buildings by choice and are generally prepared to do what it takes to not only maintain them but enhance and protect them for the future."

While he enjoys working on a range of different projects Ian says he finds his heritage work particularly rewarding.

"I get a great deal of satisfaction and pleasure from these projects - seeing buildings that have been renovated, restored or saved, knowing that they are there for the enjoyment of present and future owners."

See above for images of 'Knocklynn' and 'Captains Cottage' and check out Ian's ADNZ profile for more info.