Heritage for the future – the Arts Centre of Christchurch
The Arts Centre, Te Matatiki Toi Ora, in Christchurch, New Zealand is being restored after devastating damage during the Canterbury earthquakes of 2010 and 2011.
Originally designed by prominent, English-born 19th-century architect Benjamin Mountfort, the former University of Canterbury site is set on an entire city block and comprises 23 Neo-Gothic buildings, one of which has Heritage New Zealand Historic Place Category 2 status and 21 of which have Category 1 status.
The Arts Centre heritage restoration is the largest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere to date, with design and planning lead by Warren and Mahoney Architects, and construction being completed by Fletcher Construction, Simon Construction and Leighs Construction.
The project involves restoring the site’s 140 plus year history, returning the buildings to their former glory, and providing modern services – heating and cooling systems, WiFi and lighting – for its present-day role as a dynamic arts, heritage and education centre.
Above: Boys’ High building.
In 2012 Sto became involved in stage one of the Arts Centre’s restoration project, bringing product and interior finishing expertise, which included a lightweight and durable render system to align with existing plastering features.
The Sto lightweight interior render system reinforced with glass fibre mesh was, as a time-saving measure, applied by both spray and trowel over masonry and glass fibre reinforced polymer (GFRP) areas. This incorporated a lightweight StoLevel Lite reinforced mineral basecoat, which can be applied in medium to thick coats and was the perfect solution to apply to the damaged walls, some of which were offset or taken back by up to 60 millimetres. The organic finishing render StoLevell XXL was then applied to create a smooth, durable finish over large areas.
Stage one included the Arts Centre’s Registry buildings, in collaboration with Sto Contractor OD Plastering Solutions, and the Clock Tower, Library, Workshop, Chemistry and Boys’ High buildings and Cloisters, buildings completed in partnership with Sto Contractor Plaster Services.
Left: EA Chemistry Building. Right: the Clock Tower.
Arts Centre site and restoration manager Chris Whitty comments:
“Restoring the Arts Centre following the devastating earthquakes has required not only technical skills to be applied, but an understanding of the unique heritage restoration requirements from start to finish. The Sto interior render system specified is a product with good functionality and will make ongoing maintenance much easier.”
With stage one nearly complete, Sto and Sto Contractors OD Plastering Solutions and Plaster Services are finishing the Girls’ High/School and School of Art building.
Project: Arts Centre of Christchurch.
Architect: Warren and Mahoney.
Construction: Fletcher Construction, Simon Construction, Leighs Construction.
Sto Contractor: Plaster Services and OD Plastering Solutions.
Awards: NZIA 2018 Canterbury Architecture Award Winner; 2017 NZIA Awards Winner (Heritage Category); 2017 UNESCO Asia Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation.