Plumbers Building (Former)

Mutual House

122-124 Wakefield Street, Te Aro, Wellington
Map
  • Constructed

    1923

  • Architect(s)

    William Fielding

  • Builder(s)

    McLean & Gray (1923) / Higgins and Arcus (1933 additional storeys)

  • Plumbers Building is a good representative example of a 1920s Stripped Classical warehouse, designed by well-known Wellington architect William Fielding.

    This building retains much of its original street frontage and is an important streetscape element in Wakefield Street

    The building is one of several buildings on Wakefield Street that contribute to the character of the Cuba Street Heritage Area. These buildings represent a diverse group of purposes and architectural styles which neatly encapsulates the history of 20th century development in this area.

  • close History
    • The original three-storey building was designed by prominent Wellington architect William Fielding. It was built in 1923 for Plumbers Ltd. of Wakefield Street by McLean and Gray for an estimated cost of £9,117.  The ground floor had two offices, a showroom, and a warehouse at the rear. The plans show the first and second floors were designed as warehouse spaces. Loading and delivery were provided through yards to the building’s rear. Along with Plumbers Ltd., one of the first occupants was Alexander & Co Ltd., who had a factory on one of the floors of the new building where they produced “frocks, evening wear, underwear etc.” 

      Plumbers Ltd.  was a private company set up by hardware merchant Arthur W. Thompson and F.T. Warring of Wellington, and J.A. Brown of Dunedin.  Its aim was to 'carry on the business of mechanical engineers, metal workers and plumbers etc.’   Just two years after its completion, there was a fire in the building but only some packing cases and a window were damaged. 

      In 1933 Plumbers Ltd. had an additional two storeys added to the building, again the architect was Fielding. The addition, over the full area of the building, was made in reinforced concrete. The work was carried out by Higgis & Arcus Builders for an estimated cost of £3,690.  The 1933 addition is indicated by the extant, original cornice between the second and third floors.

    • Modifications close
      • 1923
      • construction (00055:17:A1654)
      • 1933
      • Two additional stories & verandah (00056:139:B12581)
      • 1964
      • Building alterations, new lift (00058:348:C14972)
      • 1969
      • Toilets (00058:659:C30317)
      • 1975
      • Fourth floor partitions (00058:1004:C43863)
      • 1976
      • Fire escape (00058:1022:C44582)
      • 1978
      • Convert ground floor to tearoom and takeaway (00058:1149:C49530)
      • 1994
      • Seismic upgrade of party wall and minor alterations (00060:180:6519)
      • 1995
      • Conversion to apartments (00061:115:13761)
      • 1995
      • Seismic upgrading (00061:126:14105)
      • 1995
      • Additions & alterations – penthouses – 2 apartments (00061:116:13793)
      • 1995
      • Residential development, third floor and balconies (00061:138:14483)
      • 1996
      • Car park at rear of building (00061:211:16707)
      • 1996
      • Alterations to entrance canopy (00078:572:20016)
      • 2001
      • Strengthening of deck & structure below to accommodate spa pool (00078:622:73307)
      • 2004
      • Internal fit-out for restaurant (00078:1242:113004)
      • 2005
      • Shop alterations (00078:2075:134202)
    • Occupation History close
      • unknown
      • Plumbers Ltd Plumbers Ltd (Stones 1925, 1930, 1935, 1940, 1945, Wises 1950-51, 1955, 1961-62, 1967-68).
      • unknown
      • Tenants include:
      • unknown
      • Alexander & Co, soft-goods manufacturers & importers Alexander & Co, soft-goods manufacturers & importers (Stones 1925, 1930),
      • unknown
      • Warner Brothers First National Pictures Ltd (Stones 1935, 1940, 1945),
      • unknown
      • Wises 1950-51, 1955, 1961-62),
      • unknown
      • Irish Linen Spinning & Weaving Co (Stones 1935, 1940, 1945, Wises 1950-51, 1955, 1961-62),
      • unknown
      • Poland Spalding & Wickham Jones Ltd, skin importers (Stones 1935, 1940, 1945, Wises 1971-72),
      • unknown
      • Hillcastle NZ Ltd, general merchants (Wises 1950-51, 1955, 1961-62),
      • unknown
      • H.E Perry Ltd, photographic supplies (Wises 1971-72, 1975, 1980, 1985),
      • unknown
      • Armed Forces Canteen Council (Wises 1975, 1980, 1985),
      • unknown
      • City Limits Cafe (Wises 1985, 1990)
  • close Architectural Information
    • Building Classification(s) close

      Not assessed

    • Architecture close

      Plumbers House, a 1920s Stripped Classical building, is six stories tall consisting of five older storeys (three floors of original (1923), with two floors added in 1933) and a recent roof-top addition.

      Plumbers Building is a transitional building that is influenced by both Classicism and Modernism. The principal feature of the facade is the very wide central window span permitted by the use of load-bearing reinforced concrete beams. The slender metal joinery and large glazing areas permit a generous degree of natural lighting to the upper floors.

      The facade is symmetrical, with two flanking “piers”, and is capped by a simple parapet. Decorative detail is confined to egg-and-dart moulding under the entablature, decorative metal grills at the top of the piers, and a strip of moulding at first-floor level. An interesting surviving feature is the original cornice between the second and third floors.

      The building retains much of its original street frontage, despite being capped with an unrefined roof-top addition.


    • Materials close

      The construction is reinforced concrete foundations, walls, floors and columns, with internal timber joinery of redwood and rim

    • Setting close
      The Plumbers building is one of several buildings on Wakefield Street that are included in the Cuba Street Heritage Area. These buildings represent a quite diverse group of purposes and architectural styles which neatly encapsulates the history of 20th century development in this area.

      The Plumbers building is flanked on the west by Hyams Building, a tall four storey masonry building in a simple early Edwardian Classical style, now less its original parapet. Both of these buildings retain much of their original street frontages. This pair is flanked with modern buildings to the Cuba Street corner. The first is Wakefield Apartments, a conversion of a simple but well-proportioned late 1950s Structon Group office building which is very interestingly detailed at the main street entrance and which also retains much of its original street frontage. It is nine original stories high with a roof-top addition. The corner building is a modern apartment block with large projecting balconies and arcade at street level.

  • close Cultural Value
    Plumbers Building is a good representative example of a 1920s Stripped Classical warehouse, designed by well-known Wellington architect William Fielding.

    This building retains much of its original street frontage and is an important streetscape element in Wakefield Street

    The building is one of several buildings on Wakefield Street that contribute to the character of the Cuba Street Heritage Area. These buildings represent a diverse group of purposes and architectural styles which neatly encapsulates the history of 20th century development in this area.

    • Aesthetic Value close
      • Architectural

        Does the item have architectural or artistic value for characteristics that may include its design, style, era, form, scale, materials, colour, texture, patina of age, quality of space, craftsmanship, smells, and sounds?

        Plumbers Building is a good representative example of a 1920s Stripped Classical warehouse, notable for its very wide central window span which allows natural light to flood into the upper floors.

      • Group

        Is the item part of a group of buildings, structures, or sites that taken together have coherence because of their age, history, style, scale, materials, or use?

        The Plumbers building is one of several buildings on Wakefield Street that are included in the Cuba Street Heritage Area. These buildings represent a quite diverse group of purposes and architectural styles which neatly encapsulates the history of 20th century development in this area.

      • Townscape

        Does the item have townscape value for the part it plays in defining a space or street; providing visual interest; its role as a landmark; or the contribution it makes to the character and sense of place of Wellington?

        This building is an important streetscape element in Wakefield Street, and contributes to the character of the Cuba Street Heritage Area.

    • Historic Value close
      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important person, group, or organisation?

        The building has historic value for its association the architect William Fielding, a well-regarded local Wellington architect.

    • Scientific Value close
      • Archaeological

        Does the item have archaeological value for its ability to provide scientific information about past human activity?

        It is known that there has been pre-1900 human activity on the site; hence this site has potential archaeological value.

    • Social Value close
      • Identity Sense of place Continuity

        Is the item a focus of community, regional, or national identity? Does the item contribute to sense of place or continuity?

        This building is part of a group of commercial buildings on Wakefield Street which contribute to the sense of place and continuity of the Cuba Street Heritage Area.

    • Level of Cultural Heritage Significance close
      • Authentic

        : Does the item have authenticity or integrity because it retains significant fabric from the time of its construction or from later periods when important additions or modifications were carried out?

        The building retains much of its original street frontage, despite being capped with an unsympathetic roof-top addition.

      • Local Regional National International

        Is the item important for any of the above characteristics at a local, regional, national, or international level?

        This building is of local importance, as it contributes to the Cuba Street Heritage Area.

      • Representative

        Is the item a good example of the class it represents?

        The building is a good representative example of a 1920s Stripped Classical warehouse.

    • Local / Regional / National / International Importance close

      Not assessed

  • close Site Detail
    • District Plan Number

      17/326.2

    • Legal Description

      Lot 1 DP 83937

    • Heritage New Zealand Listed

      Not Listed

    • Archaeological Site

      None

    • Current Uses

      unknown

    • Former Uses

      unknown

    • Has building been funded

      No

    • Funding Amount

      Not applicable

    • Earthquake Prone Status

      124 Notice

  • close Additional Information

Last updated: 3/07/2017 10:26:22 p.m.