Functional Heritage. Reconnecting with the Iron Web

  • William Howse
  • Renata Jadresin-MilicEmail author
Part of the Lecture Notes in Civil Engineering book series (LNCE, volume 26)


Historic buildings in New Zealand have previously been redundant in the face of contemporary development, although the potential for adaptive reuse is increasingly in popularity. This project developed from a personal passion for New Zealand’s architectural heritage, and the relevance it has in contemporary cities. The fundamental aim of this project was to explore and develop a design strategy for the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, with the intention for the chosen building to become functionally relevant in the 21st century. The selected site is located in Mornington, Dunedin, which is the currently neglected historic former Mornington Cable-Car Depot. As a general methodology for analysing the site condition a systematic study of: architectural, historical, and urban analysis was conducted to provide insight into which approach for the adaptive reuse was appropriate. Additional applied research methods in this project include: field trips, examination of relevant literature and precedents, and studying different designs concepts through drawings and 3D model making. The final design proposes Alternative Representation as a new and experimental approach to heritage. The final approach was used as a mechanism for the historic building to maintain its integrity, while enhancing the functionality of the building and revealing selected portions of the architectural cultural heritage. Therefore, the architecture creates a reminder to the contemporary city of their heritage, while the building fulfils its original function as a cable-car depot; with the end objective to stimulate change in the treatment of heritage fabric in the urban landscape of New Zealand.


Heritage Historic knowledge Adaptation Preservation Alternative representation Authenticity Identity 



The project resulted from one-year research that is final part of the Master of Architecture (Professional) programme at the Architecture Department, Unitec Institute of Technology in Auckland, New Zealand. The project was nominated to represent Unitec Architecture Department at the NZIA Central Innovation Student Design Awards—SDA for Master of Architecture Professional students within New Zealand in 2017 ( William Howse is the author of the project and the explanatory document “Functional Heritage. Reconnecting with the Iron Web”. Dr. Renata Jadresin Milic supervised the research work on the project and writing of the document throughout the year. William Howse and Renata Jadresin Milic wrote this paper together.


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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ArchitectureUnitec Institute of TechnologyAucklandNew Zealand

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