10 Aug 2017

Empty 'brutalist' flats saved from demolition

11:52 pm on 10 August 2017

A decrepit, condemned building in Wellington that was in line to be demolished has been saved after an appeal in the Environment Court was upheld.

Last year, the city council voted to re-zone the 57-year-old flats as part of Victoria University while also taking it off heritage lists, paving the way for demolition.

The Gordon Wilson block of flats on The Terrace.

The flats on The Terrace date from 1959. Photo: RNZ

The Architectural Centre opposed the council's decision in the Environment Court, arguing the flats could be repaired and reinstated as accommodation which could ease the lack of housing in the city.

"While acknowledging the present condition of the building to be poor, there is nothing that cannot be repaired and reinstated, leaving a building that would be fit for purpose as housing for students, or staff, or even convertible to academic purposes."

The centre also said it was one of only two large maisonette style public housing examples in the country and a strong example of 'Modernist' or 'Brutalist' style of building taken from Europe.

Victoria University wanted to demolish the flats because they were unsuitable for student or staff accommodation.

"The building does not provide, and cannot be adapted to provide, the type of student accommodation in demand, which is fully-catered, dormitory style accommodation for first-year students," it said in the court documents.

The university also said the land was purchased in 2014 as a strategic asset with an eye on using it as the organisation grew in the future.

Two of the three commissioners decided the Gordon Wilson flats had significant heritage value and that they should not be delisted from the local heritage list.

The building has been empty since 2012 due to earthquake risk.

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