Arts Centre F Block – The Observatory Hotel
About the Project
The Arts Centre is a much-loved heritage complex in the heart of Christchurch. Damage sustained in the 2011 earthquakes resulted in a multi-year, restoration of the facility’s numerous precincts.
The Arts Centre of Christchurch Trust Board
This stage of works at the Arts Centre included the extensive structural strengthening and the fit-out of three buildings known as ‘F Block’. These buildings were originally constructed between the late 19th century and early 20th century and suffered substantial damage in the Canterbury earthquakes including the almost total collapse of the Observatory Tower.
Starting in July 2019, Leighs Construction steadily and methodically strengthened the existing structure through new foundations, shear walls, diaphragm floors and roof structures, and then reconfigured the internal spaces as a 33-room luxury boutique hotel.
The whole project involved complex crane lifts with temporary roof structures, which were in place to protect the internal heritage fabric whilst new roofs were being built. These presented not only technical challenges but helped to create a strong safety culture within the team. For example, the Heritage Rimu staircases were removed to build the tower, repaired, and then dropped in from the top of the tower and lowered back into the building.