October 2018 Start of Work Planned for Ravenscar House

Wednesday 30 May 2018

The Ravenscar Trust and Canterbury Museum have today released the final design of Ravenscar House and confirmed that construction will start at the end of October 2018.

Ravenscar House

Exterior of Ravenscar House from Rolleston Avenue

The $15 million development on Rolleston Avenue, Christchurch, is being funded by the Trust, replacing the original Ravenscar House at Scarborough, the former home of Trust benefactors Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield.

The 520 sq metre single-story grand residence, designed by international award-winning architects, Patterson Associates, will be built on a site currently used for car parking. The site was gifted to the Museum by the Christchurch City Council in 2016, following public consultation in 2015.

Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield with architect Andrew Patterson

Former Ravenscar Trust co-chairs, Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield with architect Andrew Patterson on the site of the new Ravenscar House in 2015. Image credit: Stuff/The Press, All Rights Reserved

Earthquake rubble will be used in the aggregate to make the precast concrete panels for the house. When completed at the beginning of 2020, the Trust will gift the house to Canterbury Museum. The Museum plans to convert it to a contemporary house museum, displaying the Ravenscar Collections of New Zealand fine and decorative arts, sculpture, designer furniture and classical antiquities, and open it to the public by mid-2020.

Ravenscar Trust Chairman, Steve Wakefield says that due to poor health, Jim and Susan Wakefield have now handed over delivery of the project to the next generation of the family who are Ravenscar Trustees and to the Museum.

“We’re all committed to delivering Jim and Susan’s vision for the house. While the cost of building, based on the detailed design, has necessitated a review of some of their aspirations, the final plans remain true to their original concept. The four main rooms will be about the same size, and are inspired by the four reception rooms in the original house at Scarborough. These will be linked by a glazed terrace framing views of a central courtyard, water feature, and landscaped garden.

The precast concrete panels, which are custom manufactured by Bradford Precast of Ashburton, will be made from earthquake rubble incorporating granite from the Scarborough property, red brick from another house owned by the Wakefields that was demolished post-earthquakes, and volcanic stone remnants gifted by The Arts Centre of Christchurch.

Panels for construction

Greg Fleming of Bradford Precast (right) shows a sample of the panels to be used in building Ravenscar House. Architect, Andrew Mitchell of Patterson Associates is on the left.

Canterbury Museum Director Anthony Wright says, “It’s tremendously exciting that this wonderful building will soon start to take shape across from the Museum. It will be a significant visitor attraction for locals and tourists. The Museum is extraordinarily grateful to the Wakefields and the Trust for this generous gift which we will care for on behalf of the people of Christchurch.”

“It’s exciting to know that this fabulous new house museum will start taking shape in spring,” says Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel. “The incredible generosity of Jim and Susan Wakefield and the Ravenscar Trust is really uplifting and will add something quite special to the city’s cultural landscape.”

The house will be built on a base-isolated platform over an 880 sq metre secured basement car park (25 spaces), with an external public car park (25 spaces) accessed from Worcester Boulevard. The current Council-operated car park on the Rolleston Avenue site will close on 30 September 2018. The Council will also move the temporary toilets that have been located on the site since the earthquakes.

The Trust will issue tenders for construction of Ravenscar House in July and plans to select a contractor by September and begin works onsite in October.


  • The Ravenscar Trust is a registered charitable trust set up in 1999. To date, all of the Trust’s capital has been derived from gifts made by Jim and Dr Susan Wakefield and the subsequent investment of those funds. Trustees are professional individuals with expertise in a number of fields. The Chairman, Steve Wakefield, is Jim and Susan’s eldest son.
  • The Ravenscar Collections comprise paintings and objects collected by the Wakefields since the 1990s. The Ravenscar paintings collection includes works with a Canterbury emphasis including a 1948 Colin McCahon of Taylor’s Mistake and Rita Angus’s Cass, 10 works by Frances Hodgkins, portraits by Charles Frederick Goldie and Gottfried Lindauer, and paintings by female modernists including Gretchen Albrecht, Lois White and Evelyn Page. Other objects in the Collections include French bronzes, New Zealand sculpture by Paul Dibble, Terry Stringer, Jeff Thompson and Graeme Bennett and art glass, ceramics and furniture by New Zealand and overseas artists and designers. Antiquities include a strong collection of Roman domestic tools and equipment.
  • The Trust will retain ownership of the Ravenscar Collections. The Museum will support the operation of the house museum from its existing staff and resources. It is expected to create nine new jobs. The house museum will be largely self-financing through ticketed entry and car parking revenue.
Jump to accessibilty navigation