University of Otago Home Science Block

Union Street, Dunedin

  • University of Otago Home Science Block.
    Copyright: Wikimedia Commons. Taken By: Ben Hill. Date: 19/09/2009.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 2226 Date Entered 27th July 1988 Date of Effect 27th July 1988


City/District Council

Dunedin City


Otago Region

Legal description

Pt Lot1 DP8790 & Lot4 DP9986 & secs 11/20 pts1/2 10 DP 1649 etc

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

Otago University was opened in 1871 and is the oldest of the New Zealand universities. The Home Science School was founded in 1911 when its first director, Professor Boys-Smith began classes in the tin shed on the site of Marama Hall which had been recently vacated by the School of Mines. Colonel John Studholme has started its endowment fund with a donation of 300 pounds per year. The site of the new building was known as Tanna Hill and consisted of a large rock beside the Water of Leith. The rock had to be levelled for the foundations of the building. The School has been important in the training of dieticians for New Zealand's hospitals and institutes, and has carried out research in to the effects of iodine deficient foods on the incidence of Goitre, the presence of Vitamins A and C in different foods and low cost healthy diets.

Architectural Significance:

A part of the Gothic complex of University buildings built between 1878 and the 1920s, which constitutes a major example of nineteenth and early twentieth century Gothic in New Zealand, impressive in its size and completeness. Like Allen Hall and the School of Mines the windows are square headed.

Townscape/Landmark Significance:

The building faces across Union Street towards Allen Hall and the School of Mines and forms a secondary quadrangle to the main one under the clock tower.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Anscombe, Edmund

Anscombe (1874-1948) was born in Sussex and came to New Zealand as a child. He began work as a builder's apprentice in Dunedin and in 1901 went to America to study architecture. He returned to Dunedin in 1907 and designed the School of Mines building for the University of Otago. The success of this design gained him the position of architect to the University. Five of the main University buildings were designed by Anscombe, as well as Otago Girls' High School and several of Dunedin's finest commercial buildings including the Lindo Ferguson Building (1927) and the Haynes building.

Anscombe moved to Wellington about 1928 and was known for his work as the designer of the Centennial Exhibition (1939-1940). Anscombe had travelled extensively and had visited major exhibitions in Australia, Germany and America. The practice of Edmund Anscombe and Associates, Architects, had offices in the Dunedin, Wellington and Hawkes Bay districts, and Anscombe's buildings include the Vocational Centre for Disabled Servicemen, Wellington (1943), Sargent Art Gallery, Wanganui, and several blocks of flats including Anscombe Flats, 212 Oriental Parade (1937) and Franconia, 136 The Terrace (1938), both in Wellington. As well as being interested in the housing problem, Anscombe held strong views concerning the industrial advancement of New Zealand.

(See also )

Additional informationopen/close

Physical Description

Architectural Description (Style):

Anscombe faithfully followed the style set by Bury, which has been described as domestic Gothic but Bury was influenced by Sir George Gilbert Scott's design for Glasgow University built in 1879. Bury improved on Scott's design with more lively Gothic details and better fenestration.


Exterior unmodified but the interior has been modified several times.

Notable Features

The strongly designed stonework in contrasting black and white stone.

Construction Dates

Original Construction
1919 -

Construction Details

Constructed of bluestone (Leith Valley andesite) with a slate roof. The basement has been plastered over and may by concrete.

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

J Strauchan, NZHPT Assessment Report, 1973

Stacpoole, 1976

John Stacpoole, Colonial Architecture in New Zealand, Wellington, 1976

Other Information

This historic place was registered under the Historic Places Act 1980. This report includes the text from the original Building Classification Committee report considered by the NZHPT Board at the time of registration.

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.