Gloucester Court Flats

1 Franklin Road, Auckland

  • Gloucester Court Flats. Image courtesy of -
    Copyright: geoff-inOz. Taken By: geoff-inOz. Date: 17/11/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 582 Date Entered 26th November 1981


Extent of List Entry

Extent includes part of the land described as Pt Lot 31 DP 3270 (CT NA48D/300) and DP 92060 (CTs NA48D/295, NA48D/296, NA48D/297, NA64A/584), North Auckland Land District, and the building known as Gloucester Court Flats thereon. Refer to the extent map tabled at the Heritage New Zealand Board meeting on 3 September 2015.

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)


Auckland Council

Legal description

Pt Lot 31 DP 3270 (CT NA48D/300) and DP 92060 (CTs NA48D/295, NA48D/296, NA48D/297, NA64A/584), North Auckland Land District


The Gloucester Court Flats, built in 1935-36 on Franklin Road, Ponsonby are significant as an early example of Functionalist-influenced apartments in Auckland, and as a visually notable design by the important early twentieth-century architect, Horace Massey. They were constructed as part of a trend for speculatively-built, privately-developed and owned apartments, which lasted from around the First World War (1914-18) until the 1940s, in response to a demand for inner-city living by a growing urban population. The Gloucester Court Flats are particularly linked with a wave of apartment-building that occurred as New Zealand emerged from the Great Depression, ‘encapsulating the idea of urbane and chic modernity’. As a largely working-class inner suburb, Ponsonby had particularly suffered during the prolonged recession.

The complex of four flats is of symmetrical appearance combining Functionalist elements, such as plain surfaces and pronounced balconies with rounded corners, with traditional elements including a hipped roof. It is of brick construction, with a double-brick exterior curtain and brick interior walls. The two-storey block was designed to incorporate two flats on each floor, each the mirror image of the one to its side, and separated by a shared entrance hall. Each apartment held two bedrooms containing built-in wardrobes, as well as a kitchen, a bathroom and a heated sitting room. The main bedrooms opened onto a front balcony on both floors. The ground-floor kitchens directly accessed a small back yard. The latter contained conjoined laundries with coppers and a flat roof.

The complex was designed by well-known Auckland architect Horace Massey, for Annie and Thomas Buxton, prominent members of the Catholic community in Auckland and owners of a number of popular hotels, who had owned the site since 1905. Annie Buxton was a foundation member of the Women’s Catholic League, while Thomas Buxton was president of the Auckland Trotting Club at the time that the flats were erected. Massey and his architectural partner George Tole had a close relationship with the Catholic community, and as a result received a large number of commissions, the most noteworthy of which is St Michael’s Church, Remuera, which was awarded a Gold Medal by the New Zealand Institute of Architects (NZIA) in 1933. In the period that he designed the Gloucester Court Flats, Massey had his own architectural practice, designing many important buildings including the notable apartment complex Cintra Flats, the first modernist building in Auckland to receive an NZIA Gold Medal, and the Whangarei Public Library, for which he received another NZIA Gold Medal a year later. These three buildings appear to all have been designed in 1935. At the time, Massey had a reputation as a progressive architect and was influential in introducing the ideals of the Modern Movement to Auckland.

Gloucester Court is not as radical in design as Cintra, but as with Cintra, the Gloucester Court Flats could be described as ‘a practical home for modern living’. Both were straightforward architectural solutions to inner-city apartment living, which demanded concise interior planning, at which Massey excelled. Massey was influenced by progressive American house design, and believed in ‘the labour saving house’, in which a ‘bright, easily-worked kitchen, the pride of any housewife’, full of labour saving devices, was a feature, not to be hidden away. In 1950, he was awarded an NZIA Bronze Medal for the design of his own home.

The Gloucester Court Flats has had few recorded alterations, and the external façade remains the same as when initially designed. The building retains its aesthetic importance, making a contribution to a significant historic neighbourhood on Ponsonby Road and Franklin Road.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Massey, Horace

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

J. A. Penman and Sons

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Construction Dates

Completion Date

27th June 2015

Report Written By

Elizabeth Cox

Information Sources

Lloyd Jenkins, 2004

Douglas Lloyd Jenkins, At Home: A Century of New Zealand Design. Auckland: Random House, 2004

New Zealand Building Progress

New Zealand Building Progress

Massey, Horace, ‘Essentials of the Future Domestic Architecture of New Zealand’, New Zealand Building Progress, March 1924, p.182.

Gatley, 2008

Julia Gatley (ed.), Long Live the Modern: New Zealand's New Architecture 1904-1984, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 2008

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Morrison, Philip, and Ben Schrader, 'Inner-city living - City flats', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, updated 13-Jul-12.

Heritage New Zealand

Heritage New Zealand

Lloyd Jenkins, Douglas, ‘Cintra of Gravity’, Heritage New Zealand, Spring 2004, No.94, pp.44-5.

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald

New Zealand Herald, 10 Sept 1997, p.C7.

Building Today

Building Today, October 1936, Vol.1, No.1, p.2.

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.

A fully referenced upgrade report is available on request from the Northern Region Office of Heritage New Zealand.