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Kilwinning Lodge, Lyttelton

Brighter future for a 'portal to the past'

From Masonic Lodge to art studio

The Canterbury Kilwinning Lodge is a familiar landmark in the heart of Lyttelton. Completed in 1881 as a single-storey brick building, it was to be the location of the Freemason meetings for the next 119 years. In 1903, a massive fire gutted the building. Rather than demolish and rebuild, the building was reinstated using the existing brick walls and facade. A timber second storey was added at this time.

A slow decline in membership of the Lodge led to the closure and the sale of the building in 2000. It was then repurposed as the art studio and residence of celebrated New Zealand artist Bill Hammond. The building suffered significant damage in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and was declared unsafe and left vacant. Although insurance paid for the internal and external bracing, the building's future was in serious doubt.

Massive restoration celebrates masonic features

Will Lomax, Don Mackay and Adam Walker have a bold vision for Kilwinning Lodge. They purchased it in December 2015 and, with their ambitious plan for the building’s future, demolition was averted. When completed, the upper level will be utilised as the office of their structural engineering company Structex, and the lower level will be leased to retail or hospitality tenants. 

There’s a big task ahead but they have plenty to work with. While the exterior is handsome, its interior is unexpected. Numerous masonic features still evident in the architecture and décor, particularly in the upstairs space which Lomax has described as ‘a portal to the past’. An internal peephole, a high lantern ceiling, a secret hidden room, tiled floor and ornate timber staircase together give the interior of the building unique charm. Many of these features will be incorporated into the strengthening project.

The works required are extensive. The majority of the design work has been undertaken by Fulton Ross Team Architects and the owners’ structural engineering firm, Structex. Their plan includes adding a mezzanine to the upper floor, removing and replacing of the damaged unreinforced masonry walls, the adding steel framing, and retaining, repairing and reconnecting the façade. The bottom floor will be kept but will need extensive work.

Multiple heritage funding sources

To make their vision a reality, the building owners secured a grant of $150,000 from Heritage EQUIP in addition to a Christchurch City Council Heritage Incentive Grant. 

Contributing to the community

Lomax sees the project as not just an architectural and structural engineering challenge, but a way to do something positive for the Lyttelton community, which had a number of significant buildings either damaged or completely lost due to the the Canterbury earthquakes. The building will continue to contribute to the streetscape of the Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Lyttelton Historic Area.