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Faith on Shaky Ground: Adapting two earthquake-prone Anglican churches for contemporary use through analogue drawing

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posted on 2024-03-30, 02:17 authored by Lara van der Raaij

Throughout New Zealand, Anglican church congregations are facing significant issues with their older buildings. Historic churches are more likely to have seismic issues, and do not cater to contemporary needs. This research proposes that the requirement for seismic strengthening is an opportunity to adapt churches for the contemporary role of the Anglican church. Two historic earthquake-prone churches will be redesigned to address this. They are St Michaels Kelburn and All Saints Hataitai. Both churches must address the deadline for earthquake strengthening in the coming decade. This thesis will remediate the earthquake-prone historic fabric of both churches alongside the introduction of new architecture that facilitates their mission. This thesis engages freehand and instrumental drawing to investigate the role of analogue drawing in the adaption of heritage architecture. Observational and instrumental drawing will be used to, firstly, record and interrogate two earthquake-prone Anglican churches. Secondly, the drawing methods will be used to identify design proposals that extend the structural remediation of these buildings to incorporate new organizational elements that better suit the role of the contemporary church. Chapter one summarises the development of the Anglican Church in New Zealand, the Wellington Diocese and the histories of All Saints and St Michael’s church buildings. Chapter two describes the liturgical movement that informs the values and ethos of the congregations, and the intellectual context of living religious heritage. This literature is applied to the analysis of international and local case studies. Chapter three includes the observational and measured drawings for each church. Chapter four summarises the congregation research, and a proposed brief for each church. Chapter five documents the design orthographic drawing process for both churches. Chapter six shows the final designs.

The main finding of this thesis was that analogue drawing is a valuable part of the adaption process of religious living heritage, as it establishes a relationship between the designer, the church building and congregation that grants dignity. The designer is called to respect the whakapapa of the church and congregation, by acknowledging the way in which the designer themselves relates to the building. This begins with the relationship formed with the church on-site, through the temporal and spiritual aspects of observational drawing and the connection with the scale of the body in measured drawing. The dialogue of orthographic drawing with scale and the measured drawings deepens a reciprocal relationship between drawer and building that is unique to the architectural profession. Any one or combination of the drawing types could be employed by practitioners to adopt the suitable approach of dignity in the design process.

The resulting design interventions will also contribute examples of how to adapt a historic church, suitable as exemplars for the wider Anglican church. This thesis demonstrates that seismic strengthening can be reframed as an opportunity to re-evaluate a building’s purpose and be adapted architecturally to extend its life.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Discipline


Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Architecture (Professional)

ANZSRC Socio-Economic Outcome code

120299 Construction design not elsewhere classified; 280104 Expanding knowledge in built environment and design

ANZSRC Type Of Activity code

3 Applied research

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Wellington School of Architecture


Wood, Peter