$5.3m Renovation Plans for Vaucluse Church Include Basement Lap Pool and Suana

Despite strict heritage controls and backlash from local groups and architects, the owners of the heritage-listed Wentworth Memorial Church in New South Wales were not deterred to file $5.3 million renovation plans.

In plans lodged with the local council, the owners hired Architectural Projects to turn the monument to fallen soldiers into a luxury abode, fit with a lap pool and cinema in the basement.

Source: McGrath

Also on the cards for the newly excavated basement is an underground parking garage, sauna and gymnasium.

Donald Gazzard, the late Sydney architect, designed the white-washed brick church in 1965 in what is considered a modernist classic.

In a 1968 book Architecture in Australia, author John Maxwell Freedland praised the building for its design.

“The Wentworth Memorial Church at Vaucluse designed by Clarke, Gazzard and Partners, were at the one time both simple and beautiful, sheltering and inspirational, close to the earth and soaring, timeless yet of the minute, strong yet sensitive,” he said.

Some architects have labelled the renovation plans as “totally inappropriate” and an organisation called Friends of Wentworth Memorial Church was formed in opposition.

“The church holds immense cultural value as a rare ecclesiastical example of Sydney School architecture and is widely considered to be Don Gazzard’s most significant building,” the group told ArchitectureAU.

“We as an architectural community have real agency to shape the future of our most loved buildings and protect our cultural heritage, as proven by the recent campaign to save Sirius,” they said.

Listed as Nord Sud Pty Ltd, the owners also plan to extend the altar area with concrete, relocate the timber pews but retain the existing organ for the new living, dining and kitchen area on the ground floor.

The bedrooms are planned to be housed on the lower ground floor and the first level, with a new lift to service the property.

The home most recently changed hands in the middle of 2018 for a reported $5.8 million after being included on the state heritage register in 2012.

The property has a long and detailed history, with William Charles Wentworth purchasing the Vaucluse House in 1827 before plans were prepared in 1928 to turn it into a church.

J.H Hurst designed the church hall which was built in 1933, it was then decided it would become a memorial to residents of the district who served in WW2 in 1961.

Don Gizzard was hired in 1964 to prepare new plans for the church after a previous design was abandoned due to cost.

In 1997 attendance to the church dropped to 13 people a week, and in 2006 the church services were discontinued.

Source: McGrath

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