Arts Centre wins gold
14 August - The Arts Centre
Technical excellence and the sensitive treatment of heritage features during restoration of two of the Arts Centre’s oldest buildings has resulted in a national engineering award.
The restoration of the Clock Tower (1877) and Great Hall (1882) was awarded a Gold Award of Excellence at this year’s Association of Consulting Engineers New Zealand INNOVATE Awards. These buildings contain the historic Rutherford’s Den and new cafe Bunsen.
The awards showcase and celebrate outstanding engineering projects from around New Zealand, with judges looking for technology, innovation and service that goes beyond what is considered standard for the industry.
Structural engineers Holmes Consulting worked collaboratively with the Arts Centre to restore the treasured historic buildings, with Holmes Project Director John Trowsdale describing it as an enormous challenge.
“We worked with the Arts Centre to introduce cutting-edge structural solutions that were hidden beneath and within the existing masonry, plus installed modern utilities and services – all while retaining the buildings’ original features,” he says.
“Each structure required different structural solutions, which needed to be invisible to the eye as much as possible, using the original stone and a variety of new materials to repair the extensive damage.
“The key was to preserve and protect the stunning heritage features so the Arts Centre maintained its heritage and authenticity, while also underpinning the structure with modern—and hidden—structural features to safeguard its future and ensure the safety of those who use it.”
The Arts Centre restoration is one of the largest heritage projects of its kind being undertaken in the world and with more than half the site has now reopened to the public.
“These buildings have always been places for people, and their post-earthquake restoration provided an opportunity to cleverly tailor them for a 21st century community. Tens of thousands have flocked to them since they re-opened, reflecting the special and powerful memories they hold for so many in our healing community.”
The Arts Centre’s distinctive architectural style was established by renowned New Zealand architect Benjamin Woolfield Mountfort, who designed the first buildings for the site when it was owned by Canterbury College. He started with the Clock Tower and then the Great Hall, with both buildings typical of the Gothic Revival period of architecture – a 19th century style that Mountfort had learnt from his masters in England.