New Zealand Seismic Strengthening Awards

312 Lambton Quay – photo by Grant Sheehan
312 Lambton Quay – photo by Grant Sheehan

For the last 3 years, the New Zealand Society of Seismic Engineering has promoted seismic architecture through the NZSEE Earthquake Strengthening Awards.
This competition is open to architects and engineers, and showcases completed seismic strengthening projects.
This is great opportunity for building owners and the public to see what can be achieved, and the potential inherent in some of our older buildings.
Not only heritage list buildings are represented, you can find great examples of upgraded modern structures as well.
Diagrams and descriptions of the latest structural systems and materials, used in these projects, highlight the vast range of options available, to tailor a solution to coordinate with a buildings use, and its unique design features.
Some of the best examples are located in our well-known seismic hot spots, like Wellington, and Christchurch, where the focus on seismic strengthening is paramount. Our picks, out of the past two years entries, are no exception.

312 Lambton Quay interior retail space – photo by Grant Sheehan
312 Lambton Quay interior retail space – photo by Grant Sheehan

Overall winner, and best adaptive reuse award, in 2014, is the collaboration of Athfield Architects, and Dunning Thornton Engineers for the upgrade of 312 Lambton Quay, Wellington. The alteration recreated high open space and large shopfronts to the street frontage to suit a key anchor tenant, and this was only made possible by the new structural system. The elaborate Edwardian Baroque façade forms part of the South Lambton Quay Historic Area.

Christchurch Arts Centre Registry
Christchurch Arts Centre Registry

The Heritage winner, in the same year, was the Christchurch Arts Centre Registry re-build, after sustaining damage in the devastating Christchurch earthquakes. It is the first building to be restored, under a comprehensive plan to repair all 23 heritage buildings that make up the Christchurch Arts Centre. This is proof that stone buildings are still viable, with new structural thinking, to meet the current requirements. Warren and Mahoney architects have teamed up with Holmes Consulting Group to carefully restore and strengthen this building, and the other Gothic Revival icons, on this important heritage site.

Life Centre Wellington –facade
Life Centre Wellington –facade

This year [2015], the overall winner, and best adaptive reuse project, is a modern structure and a rare example dating from World War II. Prior to its upgrade, the building had endured many years of unsympathetic alterations, and was deemed earthquake prone. It has been faithfully restored, and upgraded to full structural code compliance in the process, by the team of Wright & Gray architects and Silvester Clark engineers. The buildings new use criteria is to allow for future flexibility, and this is not compromised at all by the existing form and new structural system.

Life Centre Wellington – contemporary interior space
Life Centre Wellington – contemporary interior space

More great examples can be seen at:
www.nzsee.org.nz/awards/

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