“Playful spaces and shapes invite patrons to relax and enjoy themselves, the created interior/exterior environment melding well with the busy adjoining street…”

The Southern Cross is one of Wellington’s few remaining 19th century hotels and in various guises has been a Wellington icon for over a century. These extensive alterations were instigated to give the bar new life and truly reflect local flavour and diversity already manifest in the heart of the Te Aro community. Arrangements of space that would constitute a traditional pub were carefully explored in order to form a contemporary environment that also embraces traditional features.

Where the former pub walls and patterned glass windows once concealed the six o’clock swill, the relationship between façade and footpath is now celebrated. A series of cantilevered rooms with inset deck and entrance are complete with full height timber windows. Doors and canopies, which slide away fluently, expose the bar and its patrons to the passing street life.

Conventional public and private bar spaces have been reshuffled. Permeable timber screens and high-back booth seating replace dividing walls to create an eclectic mix of comfortable areas that are both welcoming and private.

With a keen sense to imbue this renovation with rich layers of material interest, a diverse and seasoned mix of colour and texture became integral. Inspired through a nostalgic collection of New Zealand images and landscapes, these selections celebrate the new fabric of the building. The interior also resonates with the oils and stains used to preserve existing elements.

This project was built by Scotty’s Construction 2002 Ltd.


Winner: NZIA Resene Local Award for Architecture 2006 (Hospitality & Tourism)
Winner: NZIA Resene Colour Award 2006 (Hospitality & Tourism)

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John Mills Architects

21 Garrett Street,
Te Aro, Wellington 6011
+64 4 385 2255
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