By Donna McIntyre

Dealing with heritage buildings is demanding and rewarding, says Nigel McKenna, who has overseen the development of six luxury Mt Eden apartments in the Chambers & Station apartment project at 64 Valley Rd.

"You have to understand someone else's vision and then translate that to meet contemporary requirements," says Nigel, the development director of Development Advisory Services.

He says the Chambers & Station apartments take their names from the buildings' origins as the suburb's council chambers and fire station.


The buildings, now listed as Heritage New Zealand category B, were built in the early 1900s; the chambers in 1912 and the fire station in 1924.

"Although a mere 12 years separated their construction, they are centuries apart in building technology," says Nigel.

"The council chambers building used technology that had existed for the previous 200 years - double brick and plaster, timber windows and timber floors.

"The fire station, built after World War I, was one of the earliest buildings made of reinforced in-situ concrete with steel window frames."

In 1970, the two buildings were temporarily conjoined with a lightweight structure that Nigel's company removed to create the new entry and lobby.

The overall project took three years from inception, with about a year's worth of designing, consenting and planning, and the other two years carrying out work on site.

"We did a full refurbishment internally and externally of both buildings, including acoustic, thermal and fire upgrade, created a new glass foyer/entry with new lift and stairs, a semi-underground car park with a green roof and full roof replacement," says Nigel.

The buildings converted well to residential, he says. The Station apartments feature darker tones than the Chambers apartments, which are lighter with a lot of white.

Lead architects were Jennifer Hanson and Kendon McGrail of A Studio, with a significant input from Nigel and assistance from Stewart Harris of design company Macintosh Harris.

The development has six freehold luxury apartments, ranging in size from 86 to 210sq m.

Unit 1, which measures 113sq m, is the last apartment to be sold. It is in what was the fire station part of the development, has two bedrooms and is a through unit with east and west orientation.

The main kitchen/dining/living area is open plan, with a multiple-use space to the east end and a conservatory living area to the west.

Bifolds open to a west-orientated courtyard with a covered louvred area and outdoor gas fireplace, adjacent to a communal lawn.

The two bedrooms each have a bathroom and there is a separate laundry. There is also secure basement parking.

The unit looks out to Mt Eden's heritage villas and greenery.

With these apartments completed, Nigel - whose other Auckland developments include the DFS Galleria in the Old Custom House, the old District Court building conversion in the Metropolis, Beaumont Quarter, the Sebel/Quays, Lighter Quay and the Quadrant Hotel - says his next project is in Kingsland.

"Development Advisory Services has just commenced construction of NXN, our 78-unit apartment project facing on to Nixon Park."

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