GOVERNMENT HOUSE

PROJECT TYPE: HERITAGE

USE: GOVERNOR GENERAL’S RESIDENCE

LOCATION: NEWTOWN, WELLINGTON

CLIENT: DEPARTMENT OF THE PRIME MINISTER AND CABINET

ARCHITECTS: ATHFIELD ARCHITECTS

PROJECT TIMEFRAME: 2009-2011

AWARDS: PROPERTY COUNCIL MERIT AWARD, NZIA AWARD

Our firm’s founder, Lawrence McGuinness, first worked on Government House in the 1950s. Half a century later, his firm was entrusted with one of New Zealand’s most significant heritage refurbishments.

Government House boasts a main building with 27 bedrooms and 19 bathrooms. The project involved earthquake strengthening, removal of asbestos, repainting to match the original colour scheme, improved disability access, and replacement or upgrading of the water, wastewater, stormwater, power, gas, communication, heating, lighting and fire protection systems. Replacing the roof involved the installation of 180,000 new tiles.

With 45 of its own tradesmen on the job plus up to 150 sub-contractors, the native timbers and ornate woodwork throughout the 100-year-old building were painstakingly restored. The project was completed ahead of schedule and within budget early in 2011.

Peter Watts, a heritage expert and former director of Australian historic houses trust, told the Dominion Post that the restoration was better than any he had seen worldwide. ‘It is an exemplary project. I can tell you if we got to this point in Australia, I would be thrilled.’