Business South April 2022

94 | New church opens doors to community Kim Newth The new Most Holy Trinity church in Avonside occupies the same footprint and site where the old stone church designed by Benjamin Mountfort stood. Holy Trinity Church COMMUNITY February 24th is a very significant date for the Parish of the Most Holy Trinity Avonside. This date in 1857 was when their first cob church was consecrated, superseded a few decades later by a Benjamin Mountfort-designed stone church. On 24 February 2022 – 165 years to the day – the new Holy Trinity Avonside was consecrated, occupying the same footprint and site where the old stone church once stood in pre-earthquake times. The Category 1 heritage listed church on the corner of Stanmore and Avonside Drive was badly damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes and demolished in September 2011. Also lost to the earthquakes was a large brick church hall. It has been a long journey for the parish since then, which was left with just a small wooden hall (St Francis) for both church and social gatherings. When the Rev Jill Keir joined the parish at the start of 2013, she found a church community that was reeling from the loss of their beloved old church and becoming disjointed. She has worked hard to turn that around and this reinvigorated parish now has added cause for optimism with their new church completed. “For years we have had to do everything in one little hall and now suddenly we have all this space,” she says. “We’re excited at how we are able to reach out to the community and provide community activities as we have the room to do it. “There has been a lot of interest from the local area. The main church space holds a hundred people and the foyer holds another hundred if needed. We have a little chapel with a lot of heritage memorabilia from the old church, along with offices and a fully equipped kitchen. It really is wonderful.” She praised the design and build team, Tennent Brown Architects and RPC Construction, along with Church Property Trustees for their expertise in bringing this unique project through to completion. The new church, modest in scale, has a natural timber palette that brings a settled sense of dignity and warmth to the building. Tennent Brown Architects’ design reflects the parish values of being welcoming and inclusive. The simple modern form is light and open inside, with internal glass doors and glazing on three sides that connects well with the historic graveyard and church environs. “The range of spaces inside allow for a lot of flexibility in worship and how people are welcomed,” says senior architect Brenda Solon, who oversaw the observational stage of this project for Tennent Brown along with Christchurch architect Greg Miller. “As it turned out, three of the little stainedglass windows salvaged from the old church were made by Greg’s great uncle who was a stained-glass artist, so that was a nice tie-in.” Also salvaged were original structural timber elements hand stencilled by Benjamin Mountfort. These have been reused decoratively in the new church, following sensitive restoration by Emily Fryer. Demolition marks were left in the salvaged timbers to tell the earthquake story. Other salvaged items restored and reused include stained-glass dating back to the 1870s, old terracotta tiles, reredo panels (placed in the new chapel) and a large totara post at entry. “In their brief, the parish talked about not wanting to make the church a museum, but they did want to retain and re-use heritage items to give a sense of how precious they were and to enrich the space with a connection back to the past.” RPC Construction worked very carefully so as not to disturb the ground around the church footprint. The site is surrounded on three sides by the historic graveyard and, with trees to the front and side and a narrow entry to the site, access was very constrained. Three cranes were tried for this project but only one was able to fit. Building started on site in mid2020 after the first Covid lockdown. Disrupted supply chains did create some delays for materials, though this did not prevent work from continuing on site. RPC Construction site manager Daniel Trenberth says a lot of forward thinking and planning was required on this very special project. “It has been one of my favourites to date. We had such a great team on site and the church leaders have been really nice. We got scones with cream and jam along the way. We’re so glad that this new church is finally here for the parish. It is lovely, warm and fit for modern purpose yet has this old heritage element as well.” “We’re excited at how we are able to reach out to the community and provide community activities as we have the room to do it.” A modern church embracing the rich heritage of the old. Thanks to the Parish, CPT, Greg Miller - Chaplin Crooks Architects, the consultant team, RPC Construction and subcontractors. Particular thanks to Daniel Trenberth, the ideal foreman to realise this special building. Jamie Falconer M 021 619 668 • P 03 3436 432 'Everything to do with Floors'