The Arts Centre of Christchurch has received two prestigious awards in one week.
Heritage buildings tell stories about who we are. It is a pleasure to be involved with returning these buildings back to Christchurch. Peter Marshall
Warren and Mahoney has taken out the Heritage Category Award at the prestigious 2017 New Zealand Institute of Architects Awards for their “painstaking attention to detail and faithful replication” of the Arts Centre in Christchurch.
In the same week the Arts Centre, the largest collection of Category 1 heritage buildings in New Zealand, was recognised with a renowned UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation for two of the site’s most valuable buildings – the Great Hall and Clock Tower.
Peter Marshall, Managing Director of Warren and Mahoney said the project was a huge responsibility due to the history of the site and its cultural and social significance to the city of Christchurch.
“Heritage buildings tell stories about who we are. The challenge with the Arts Centre was to work with the fabric of historic buildings to bring them up to seismic standards as well as make them commercially viable and future-proof the spaces to become a vibrant centre of a modern community. It is a pleasure to be involved with returning these buildings back to Christchurch,” said Peter Marshall.
Warren and Mahoney was commissioned, in collaboration with Heritage New Zealand, to stabilise, then rebuild and restore the Arts Centre of Christchurch following the devastating effects of the February 2011 earthquake.
Warren and Mahoney’s design included the use of world-leading seismic-strengthening processes, where GRP (Glass-Reinforced Polymer) is applied over brickwork, layer upon layer, to lock them in place. The Art Centre is the largest site in New Zealand that this process has been used on.
“Bricks have a low sheer strength, so in a shake they can crumble away. As the process has to be applied to brickwork then plastered in layers, it is very labour-intensive, but it is the greatest safeguard against seismic damage available to heritage sites like the Arts Centre,” said Peter Marshall.
Due to the scale of the damage caused during the February 2011 earthquake, new modern elements could be discreetly introduced, including a canopy linking the theatre with the Boys’ High building, the installation of Wifi within the structure of the buildings, and artesian heating and cooling.
“One of the biggest differences we made to the building was upgrading the lighting. It now includes a multi-function lighting system that allows the lighting to be directed onto key areas. Features like the ceilings can now be seen in a way that they have never been seen before,” said the project’s architect Craig Fitzgerald.
Warren and Mahoney’s contribution towards the $290 million Arts Centre project compliments other Christchurch heritage projects, which include the Isaac Theatre Royal and the Christchurch Town Hall.