Traditional techniques being used to create replica spire

Traditional techniques are being used to create a 6.5 tonne spire that will be placed on top of the Boys’ High building later this year.

The design and placement of the 10m-high replica spire (flèche) have been guided by historic drawings and photographs to ensure it closely resembles the original that sat on the building when it was built in 1881.

When complete, the flèche will be craned into position, marking the completion of the building’s restoration and fit-out.

The Friends of the Arts Centre are actively fundraising to pay for the flèche and have so far raised about one-third of their target.

Master craftsman Michael Sinclair is using a blowtorch to heat, stretch and bend large sheets of thick lead which are then welded and laid over the wooden flèche structure. Watch the video. When complete, the flèche will sit over a vertical steel bar to ensure it withstands seismic events.

“No silicon is being used on the flèche – it’s being created using the traditional techniques that would’ve been used to make the original,” says Arts Centre Site Manager Chris Whitty.

“Taking this approach is one way we can get it to closely resemble the original – just as our stonemasons often use traditional techniques on the stonework.

“While the flèche won’t be operational, it’s a replica of the original that would’ve helped circulate fresh air through the building. We’re committed to restoring these historic buildings so they’re as good as they can possibly be.”

Friends of the Arts Centre Chair Graeme Wallis says donations toward the flèche can be made at a donation box in the Boys’ High foyer, or by contacting the Friends directly.

“There are very few historic buildings left in Christchurch and we feel fortunate that we’re helping to put this incredible heritage feature back in its original place. It’s an important part of our history that future generations will now be able to enjoy.”

Boy’s High is already partially tenanted and boutique retailers are being sought for the remaining spaces, says Leasing Manager Louise Sutherland.

“The flèche is a prime example of what makes these spaces so special – their history. Our tenants get to enjoy a one-of-a-kind character building that’s been restored with modern layouts and state-of-the-art infrastructure.”

Photo gallery