Behind the Design

Distinctive Designs

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Behind the Design: The redefined elegance of Thornton Earl Manor

The stunning restoration of Thornton Earl Manor took home both the 2020 ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Award for the Residential Multi-Unit Dwelling category and the 2020 TIDA Designer Renovation of the Year Award.


Designed by AO Architecture director Michael John, the restoration and alterations of the manor blends modernisation while maintaining the integrity of the building in its language and character.


Port Hills Location and Distinguished Origin

Sited on the Port Hills of early Christchurch, Thornton Earl Manor was on a large parcel of land which included an orchard, glass houses, gardener’s cottage, servants’ quarters, tennis court and substantial gardens.


Originally designed and built by the distinguished England brothers of Christchurch the manor has now been brought back to its former grandeur.


ADNZ Judges’ Unanimous Agreement

A totally unexpected entry for this category, the Thornton Earl Manor project attracted the ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Award judges’ unanimous agreement for its innovative approach to restoring a heritage building with the possibility of a conversion into multiple apartments.


Extensive interior works enabled this smart reconfiguration that had to meet the challenges posed by the need for fire separation and privacy.


The designer’s careful consideration for the building’s heritage nature has successfully resulted in an exceptional renovation reflecting its original style.


Thornton Earl Manor’s Role in Post-Quake Christchurch

The restoration saves and celebrates heritage in post-quake Christchurch, proposes an innovative, multi-unit approach in restoration and poses the possibility of living in a unique and prestigious location a bit more accessible.

By: Jamie Quinn