Precast aggregate concrete panels that grace the front of the
1970s-era John Wickliffe House in Dunedin's Exchange have
become the latest battleground in the city's heritage
The company that owns John Wickliffe House has applied for
resource consent to repair and paint the building, which is
in a protected townscape precinct zone.
At the heart of the issue is a plan to paint the panels -
which are covered with exposed and polished West Coast
serpentine stone - black and grey.
The plan brought a strong response from an architect involved
in the design of the building.
Rodney Dalziel responded to the idea of black for some
panels: ''Oh good Lord - oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.''
On one side of the debate stand the likes of Otago academic
Michael Findlay and archivist and architecture writer David
Murray, while on the other are property owners Alistair Broad
and Cr Hilary Calvert.
Mr Findlay, a professional practice fellow, said the panels
''contributed largely to the visual integrity'' of a building
that was a product of its time, and needed conservation.
But John Wickliffe House owners' representative Tony Offen
said: ''We've made a genuine effort, actually, to complement
the changing faces of the Exchange.
''Painting is our preferred option.''
Submissions closed last week on the consent and a hearing is
set for August 14.
Five submissions oppose the plan, while three are in support.
Council resource consents manager Alan Worthington said the
district plan stipulated buildings in the north Princes
St-Moray Pl-Exchange Townscape Precinct required consent
before being painted.
The work was a restricted discretionary activity.
The design, appearance and cladding of the building had to be
considered when changes were made.
South Pacific Resorts Ltd, which has Mr Broad and Cr Calvert
as directors, has supported the work.
In its submission, the company said the work should not need
a notified consent.
''The city has recently expressed concern about buildings not
''The idea is to encourage, not discourage repairs.
''Does someone in planning think Rattray St looks good?''
Mr Offen said plenty of Exchange buildings were painted-
Phillip Laing House had dark painted panels, and the historic
former BNZ building had been painted.
''I don't think painting is something that needs to be
steered away from.
''It's just a question of coming up with a colour or
combination that works.''
''In terms of us being able to maintain that exterior facade
in a practical way, this is is our preferred option."
But Mr Findlay said in his submission painting of the panels
was similar to painting a previously unpainted stone building
in a heritage precinct.
''While many buildings were treated in this way in the past,
the practice has virtually ceased and emphasis has turned in
the opposite direction.''
He likened modifying the building to modifications made to
19th-century buildings in the 1930s, which meant much of
their character was destroyed.
Mr Murray said the 40-year-old building was ''not widely
appreciated'', but was one of the major construction projects
of 1970s Dunedin.
Mr Dalziel, now 81 and living in Whangarei, said the panels
were designed to require little maintenance.
''As soon as you do something like painting or make other
changes you then create a whole new maintenance issue''.
His mentor Ian Dunn, who designed the building until he fell
ill and Mr Dalziel took over, ''went to a lot of trouble'' to
source serpentine stone from the West Coast.
Previous Dunedin buildings designed by the firm using similar
panels gathered dust, meaning they had to be washed.
The serpentine stone was highly polished, so that would not
happen, and should be ''reasonably permanent''.
''I suppose about all you can do is paint it, but I cannot
see any real reason to do that.''