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$2.5 million boost to restore Canterbury Council Buildings

$2.5 million funding boost to restore Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings

The Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage today announced they will jointly provide funding of $2.5 million for the Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings, to be used towards restoration and reconstruction of its Armagh and Durham street stone towers. When completed, this work is intended to enable the adjacent wooden buildings to re-open for public use as soon as possible.

Widely acknowledged as New Zealand’s most outstanding example of High Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, the buildings were severely damaged in the 22 February 2011 earthquake. The Stone Chamber (1865) collapsed immediately, compounded by subsequent seismic activity. The Armagh Street stone tower collapsed and the Durham Street stone tower was damaged to the point where deconstruction was necessary.

Dr Rod Carr, Trustee of Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust says, “Given the unique heritage value of these buildings and their importance as a venue for cultural and other activities, the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust is very pleased to help get this project underway”.

At this point the Armagh and Durham Street stone towers have been deconstructed down to a height of 2-4m above ground level. The $2.5 million is to be put to their restoration and reconstruction, opening up the principal public access way to the buildings, through the Armagh Street tower. Funding of $1.25 million is being provided by the Ministry for Culture and Heritage to match the $1.25 million granted by the Appeal Trust. The restoration of the two towers supports a landmark recovery project, significant to the Christchurch City Council’s contribution towards rebuilding of the city.

"This is great news for Christchurch and will be well-received locally and internationally. I am excited we have secured this funding so we can preserve some of Christchurch's unique story and make significant parts of this iconic building available for public use once more. So much has already been lost here in Christchurch it's great to celebrate this good news and take this positive step forward in restoring the Canterbury Provincial Building," says Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel.

Dr Anna Crighton, Chair of Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Fund says, “The Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings are the last remaining purpose-built provincial parliament buildings in New Zealand. The ornate and detailed stone council chamber has a particularly significant heritage value and these were the first buildings listed as a Category 1 Historic Building by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust.”

Assessments by engineers confirmed that the timber portions of the buildings are repairable, however the stone towers and chamber will require major works. Christchurch City Council has been deconstructing, stabilising and making safe all the buildings, ensuring they are weather proof. The remains of the Stone Chamber have been stabilised but a decision on whether to rebuild this part of the complex has yet to be made.

The total cost of restoration and reconstruction of the Provincial building complex is yet to be determined, but it is estimated to exceed the total insurance pay-out of approximately $30 million. Work is expected to commence this year.


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