Whare Ra

Once home to the New Zealand branch of the magical Order of Stella Matutina

This category 1 Historic Places Trust building once housed the New Zealand branch of the magical Order of Stella Matutina. Designed and built by James Walter Chapman-Taylor, a senior member of the Order, the home was purpose-built to house both the Felkin family and operate as the New Zealand Headquarters of the Order. Named Smaragdum Thalasses, the Lodge’s teachings were conducted in the basement temple. Fast forward to today, and this building is a family home that has undergone respectful renovations and extensions. This two-stage project began with the addition of a garage and forecourt. The brief for the garage was to create an ancillary building to the main house that would create a functional vehicle court and entry to the house from the unusable lawn area where the garage is now located. The clients were adamant that the style of the garage should reflect the existing coarsely detailed roughcast plaster and concrete dwelling. Stage two involved the conversion of an intermediate sub floor space storage area into an en-suite and dressing room. The space was once used as a changing area for adorning ceremonial robes and then accessing the temple in the basement via a timber staircase, which still exists. The new staircase sits in approximately the same location as the original one. While a challenging space to convert with its restricted headroom, it was determined that a lower ceiling would not be out of character for the already eccentric house. From the exterior the aim was to lightly touch the concrete with the addition of two small windows and an extract fan which sits behind an original cowl. Internally, a more contemporary aesthetic was able to be applied as a skin over the existing walls which remain untouched. Servicing the newly formed space proved to be the biggest challenge, but this was achieved with the aid of ceiling bulkheads below and surface mounted light fixtures. Strapped walls conceal the electrical and wiring.

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