Tag Archives: Old Dunedin Prison

Dunedin Heritage Re-use Awards

Updated post Wed, 25 Mar 2015 at 4:50 p.m.


As seen on Sunday, 15 March 2015 at Wall Street in George St.
Dunedin Heritage Re-use Design Competition for Tertiary Students 2014/15
Raw images off phone.
Student competition renders in no particular order below.

One Project ? Was it Old Dunedin Prison ?
The renderings are fine in themselves perhaps, they’re learning curves. Leaving people firmly out of place! Former people (dead or alive), journeymen, jailers, new people, affected people — the exercise is all too quasi-academic, empty without academic search, throw some words on. Design research, thin. The computer-aided outcomes are precociously abstract, bleak – marring historic heritage, treating this as a poorly legible underlay in return for the swivel, the filmic, the freak-style epic. The so-called ‘architectural programme’ for re-use has overridden historical and contemporary respect for What Is, What Was. Students who read magazines and online profiles for design conformity against concrete reality?! Where’s the all-encompassing relevance to Architectural Heritage, the Dunedin Heritage Strategy, the heritage precinct, the capture of material traces or archaeological sympathy – for the devil that is a Victorian courtyard prison? Are the images an Assault, an Achievement, Lock or Key? Subtlety on parole, absconded by software? Some poorly guided intelligence. Drawings of the crazed and the constipated, a malingering and criminal reformative process. If I noticed any, I was hacking off my anklet.

Policy planning is not Conservation Architecture.
Architecture is not Conservation Architecture.


Dunedin Heritage Re-use Awards 2014/15
Other exhibition screens on display at Wall Street (21.3.15):

The Oakwood Properties Earthquake Strengthening Award 2014/2015
Iona Church – 24 Mount Street [Port Chalmers]
Selwyn College – 560 Castle Street
Speights Brewery – 200 Rattray Street
Stavely Building – 5 Jetty Street
Vogel Street Kitchen – 76 Vogel Street

Otago Polytechnic School of Design / Heritage New Zealand Interiors Award 2014/15
Abacus Bio to Public Trust Ground Floor Restoration – 442 Moray Place
Iona Church – 24 Mount Street [Port Chalmers]
Selwyn College – 560 Castle Street
Silver Fern Farms (Chief Post Office) – 283 Princes Street
Stavely Building – 5 Jetty Street
Vogel Street Kitchen – 76 Vogel Street

Urban Heroes
Projects demonstrating good heritage outcomes, positive benefits to the community and improvements to the appearance of the city.
Barton’s Building, Princes Street – Imom Limited
Former Johnson’s Fish Shop, George Street – Oakwood Properties Limited
Harvest Court, George Street – Marca Investments Limited
Orderlies’ Building, Dowling Street – Octa Group Limited

Related Posts and Comments:
28.2.13 Tour the old prison in March (2013)
20.9.12 Dunedin Prison
6.6.12 Dunedin Prison purchased by trust
18.10.11 Dunedin Prison Charitable Trust –- see building history

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Design, Economics, Events, Heritage, Heritage NZ, New Zealand, NZIA, People, Pics, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design, What stadium

Besides a stadium development for Dunedin! More harping.

Dunedin’s “heritage tourism” future…

What if? has a recent thread The Chronicals of Yarnia (formerly known as “What else! Future options for Dunedin include…”), a temporary hold-all for ideas that with exploration could benefit Dunedin’s liveability for future generations.

Yarnia is a deliberately “loose” thread. The name change resulted from the thread’s capture by writers revisiting stadium and council politics about which they feel deeply. This was NOT talking up Dunedin’s potential, however. Other writers responded in the intended spirit of the thread, for this (sigh) we warmly thank them.

When a topical item like the “prison one” below comes up by media or other avenue, we like to give the people involved front billing at What if?. Similarly, in future, we will highlight the suggestions, knowledge and expertise, for example, of people like David and Phil who regularly post at What if?. If you read the Yarnia posts, you’ll quickly understand why.

Envisioning complementary components of Dunedin’s future – our shared business future – will always be more valuable economically and culturally than becoming subservient to the burdens (real or fictional) of the stadium project, an ad hoc project for which a community consensus never happened. The stadium has arisen due to powerful political dealings, and leanings.

The stadium is a rather small and probably unsustainable component of what Dunedin means to residents and visitors, if the community would agree some projects that add to the cultural depth and understanding of our place.
(well OK maybe the stadium does some of this…)

As the historic phenomenon Dunedin truly is – the heritage component of the city has been uncoordinated as a planning strategy for generating “wealth”. It hasn’t been ideationally explored or positively exploited to express our contemporary selves. How did we miss that obvious track?!

Concrete strategy, coordination and excellence are sorely needed, from entrepreneurial people who passionately love Dunedin for its heritage potential, like nowhere else.

The last three words are heavily inscribed with meaning.


Local resident and retired chartered accountant Stewart Harvey has been interested in the fate of the old Dunedin Prison for many years.

### ODT Online Thu, 3 Dec 2009
Opinion: Unlocking old jail’s potential
By Stewart Harvey
Stewart Harvey argues that the Dunedin Prison is too precious to be simply turned into another backpackers or restaurant. Instead, he suggests, it could become a heritage tourist attraction.
Read more

I absolutely support Stewart’s views about the way forward for the prison building’s future. Further, I would expand on these to comprehensively “read” the cultural and economic significance and business potential of not only the immediate heritage precinct, but also the CBD area as a whole.

This will be explored in future posts, and by transferral eventually to the new duned.in website blog Paul is templating now (it’s true, good things take longer).


Back to the old prison.
Some prominent heritage persons in town have continually “missed the bus” in describing (unresearched) options for the historic building’s future use – including visitor Neil Cossons – by thinking that more intrusive adaptive reuse is the way to ensure its business viability.

I’m a great supporter of adaptive reuse, but NOT for Dunedin’s old prison. The building has more value to the regional economy if its internal fabric is retained largely as is – we need to maintain the original fabric and partitions, and adapt our human behaviour and activities within it to fit, to create the viable business footing.

The parties quietly calling for irreversible upheaval of its interior (they wouldn’t put it like this; it would be the cumulative effect), such as the Southern Heritage Trust, are approaching the building’s future use wrongly in terms of watering down its potential impacts. These “impacts” are the building’s selling points (deliberately not defined here).

Stewart Harvey is a man of foresight, visitation and research. His idea to link what could happen at the prison to what may at the Dunedin Courthouse – in explaining the region’s legal and criminal history, including the insuperable ties to the Faculty of Law at University of Otago – provides very rich pickings indeed.

A few years ago, as NZHPT Otago branch chair, I was consulting alongside NZHPT staff on the redevelopment of the Dunedin Courthouse. Aside from site meetings about building redevelopment matters, we met several times with Courts Manager Maria Bradshaw to discuss the setting up of a Friends of Dunedin Courthouse organisation, at her behest. The Friends role, in conjunction with Courts officials, would oversee the building’s future public visitor, fundraising and events potential, to assist projects providing on-site explanation, exhibition, enactment and interpretation of the history and persons associated with the Dunedin courts. Sadly, the Friends idea lost momentum following the Court Manager’s relocation to Auckland.

As Stewart implies, it’s time to organise an interested body of people with historical knowledge and business expertise, that can decide the future of the prison building.

And yes, I will push the notion further by saying we should “straightaway” be looking at the prison and the courthouse buildings combined as a sound heritage tourism destination within the immediate heritage precinct…discovering a purpose that fits comfortably alongside schedules imposed by the courts’ routine workday operations.

Post by Elizabeth Kerr

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