A slice of Christchurch's history rising from the rubble

Taking out the 2020 ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Award for the Residential Multi-Unit Dwelling category was the innovative restoration project of Christchurch’s Thornton Earl Manor by Michael John of AO Architecture.

Perched on the Port Hills, high above Christchurch city, sits the impressive Thornton Earl Manor. Constructed at the turn of the century by the England Brothers, a renowned architect and builder of early Christchurch, this stunning home received extensive damage in the Canterbury earthquakes with masonry chimneys collapsed, the Marseilles roof tiles dislodged, and extreme structural and cosmetic damage to the interior.

With the aim to respectfully restore Thornton Earl Manor to its former glory while ensuring the flexibility to allow for modern day living, the decision was made to convert the stately home into 4 separate apartments.

Michael John of AO Architecture was enlisted to transform the quake ravaged manor. Considerable work was required to bring the home up to 100% of the Building Code including stripping back to the studs, removing most of the floors, underpinning, relevelling, new shear walls, extensive bracing, and fire rated linings installed to almost all walls and ceilings.

The judges where blown away by this unexpected multi-unit project. Michael's innovative approach and obvious care and consideration to pay homage to the homes rich history, while successfully future proofing is clear through the meticulous attention to detail. The smart reconfiguration of the interior, whilst successfully retaining the homes grandeur perfectly celebrates heritage in post-quake Christchurch.

Photography by Simon Larkin of Larkin Design.