Observatory Tower restoration

A $10m fundraising campaign has been launched to restore one of the Arts Centre’s most recognisable buildings – the Observatory Tower adjacent to the South Quadrangle.

Before and after photos of the Observatory Tower.

The tower was one of the most visibly damaged buildings following the February 2011 earthquake and its restoration will see it rebuilt on the original site, to the original external plan, using original materials.

Designed by Benjamin Mountfort – the architect behind many Arts Centre buildings – the Observatory Tower was built in 1896 and is regarded as a fine example of a functional Neo Gothic building.

Although it suffered major failure after the 2011 earthquake, the building was secured and made water-tight. All major pieces of architectural masonry and other building materials were salvaged, documented and stored. The intention is to completely restore the tower and star-gazing Observatory Dome, including reinstating the Townsend telescope that is being restored by its owners, the University of Canterbury.

Engineering and conservation plans are already underway for the treasured building that, before the earthquakes, was open to the public every Friday night, and during KidsFest and Matariki.

Restoration work is expected to start next year and re-open to the public by 2020 but this will not be possible without the community’s support.

The restored tower will feature a new, state-of-the-art astronomy dome that will be more comfortable, warmer and fit-for-purpose than the basic dome that was destroyed in the earthquake.

Left, historic picture of the Tower, and an artist’s impression of the restored Tower

Help rebuild the Observatory Tower

Join us in helping to restore the Observatory Tower, a unique architectural gem. All donations – small or large – make a difference and are very much appreciated. If you would like to sponsor a specific part of the project, there are opportunities to get involved in various exciting ways, and be recognised for your donation. All donors will be recognised on this web page, in the Annual Report, and on a permanent donors board in the Observatory Tower. You will also be a guest of honour at the grand re-opening event for the Tower!

You can support the Observatory Tower restoration here, or by downloading a donation form.

Thank you to our supporters