UN award for ‘painstaking’ work
The $290 million restoration of the Christchurch Arts Centre has won two major heritage awards.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) gave its Asia Pacific merit award for cultural heritage conservation to the restoration of the centre’s Great Hall and Clock Tower building.
Duong Bich Hanh, jury chairwoman and Unesco Bangkok’s culture unit chief, said the resurrection of the buildings returned a major historic landmark to the public. They served as a social, educational and cultural hub in the community.
It is the fourth time the awards have recognised a New Zealand project. Fortythree projects in 10 countries were nominated.
The jury’s report said that after suffering major earthquake damage, the buildings’ masonry structures underwent ‘‘a sophisticated regime of seismic strengthening and retrofitting, along with painstaking reconstruction of significant heritage features’’, while modern facilities and services were ‘‘discreetly inserted to enhance the contemporary functionality’’.
Arts Centre chief executive Andre Lovatt said the award was ‘‘fantastic’’ and a significant endorsement for the ‘‘magnificent’’ restoration work.
The second recognition for the project came from the New Zealand Institute of Architects, which gave Christchurch architecture firm Warren and Mahoney its heritage award.
The institute noted the ‘‘painstaking attention to detail and faithful replication’’ of the Arts Centre.
Warren and Mahoney managing director Peter Marshall said the project was a huge responsibility due to the history of the site and its cultural and social significance to Christchurch.
The challenge was to work with the fabric of the buildings and bring them up to earthquake standards as well as make them commercially viable and futureproof, Marshall said.
One of the processes used was applying glass-reinforced polymer over the brickwork to lock it in place.
The Arts Centre is the largest site in New Zealand where the system has been used.
The Christchurch earthquakes damaged all 23 buildings in the Arts Centre. About half the complex, originally the University of Canterbury campus, has re-opened.
Funds for the restoration have come from insurance, fundraising, grants and partnerships.
The Clock Tower building at the Christchurch Arts Centre.