An exceptional pool of expertise is available as heritage recovery gets underway in Christchurch. Heritage and character buildings contribute significantly to the identity and character of the City and Banks Peninsula. Whilst a number of heritage buildings have suffered moderate to severe damage many of these can be stabilised and repaired.
Retaining Christchurch’s unique character is important for Christchurch. Fortunately, the number of severely damaged heritage buildings is low, and heritage recovery is underway.
Many buildings that appear to have sustained considerable damage can, in fact, be repaired. Safety of people is of utmost importance. The focus of heritage professionals, architects, structural engineers, stonemasons and other trades as part of the heritage recovery effort is to ‘retain, repair, and rebuild’.
One example of temporary bracing can be seen around the exterior of well known heritage building, the former Municipal Chambers, now Our City O-Tautahi, in the Central City.
The building is of international and national significance and is listed with both the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Pouhere Taonga (Category 1) and Christchurch City Council (Group 1, Christchurch City Plan).
Built as the Christchurch City Council's original Municipal Chambers, and opened in 1887, the building was designed by renowned architect Samuel Hurst Seager.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, structural engineers and heritage professionals worked together to minimise further damage and ensure public safety. Any loose stone features have been carefully stored so that original materials can be reused in future repair work.
The northern and western chimneys were braced to minimise any additional damage from aftershocks.
The building has benefited from a structural upgrade carried out in 1989 which improved the building’s ability to withstand an earthquake. Engineers were able to utilise existing structural elements to further stabilise the building.
Roofing specialists worked to ensure the building was watertight. Tiles from some sections of the roof were removed and safely stored to reuse in repair work. Plywood, painted to match the terracotta roof tiles, has been put in place.
Despite the fencing immediately around the building, the public is still able to access the riverbank and enjoy the setting.
Related heritage information is listed below: