Christchurch Arts Centre re-opens to the public

03 01 17

Benmax has a reputation for taking on complex projects and The Arts Centre in Christchurch is no exception. The historic collection of buildings, dating back to 1877, has a rich history and presently holds a library, public exhibition spaces, retailers and food outlets. Following damage sustained during the 2011 earthquakes, the Centre is now undertaking a $290 million seven-year restoration project.  Our New Zealand team has played an integral role in the redevelopment undertaking mechanical works across many of the 16 buildings on site.

"Undertaking a full mechanical upgrade whilst a structural strengthening was happening provided a wonderfully difficult project consisting of some unique challenges" 
Geoff Absolom, Director, Benmax NZ.

Work on the project has, at times, been challenging for the team with conservation of the existing building structures the priority. The original schematics cannot change, with services inside the building – such as HVAC systems – requiring modern and improved earthquake resistant system designs, having to be retrofitted. One particularly difficult project was the library plantroom with a basement storage space designated as its new location. With a maximum ceiling height of just 3 metres and only one narrow stairwell to access the room, there was very little flexibility for the design and installation of services. The use of prefabricated segments, built off site, was identified as the best approach to the job. The team engaged Victaulic on the project design with the modular nature of their mechanical piping products suiting the projects needs. Primarily, the use of Victaulic couplings, rather than a welded or flanged system, eliminated the need for high-risk time consuming work on site.

Key features;

  • Largest heritage rebuild in the world
  • World heritage site
  • Prefabrication
  • Artesian water cooled plant

Another key feature of the project was the use of the artesian water from the natural subterranean water supply, eliminating the need for high maintenance cooling towers. The system uses the constant energy from the artesian water to maintain the correct temperature in the condenser pipework, greatly reducing energy consumption and promoting an environmentally sustainable solution. Because the artesian water system is open and integrated into the natural aquifers, which also serves as a drinking water supply, extra caution was taken to prevent contamination. Pipework in the plantroom was fabricated from type 316 stainless steel to prevent corrosion and rust, and Victaulic was able to provide stainless steel couplings, fittings, butterfly and check valves. In some instances they were able to provide RilsanTM coated product for extra protection. For more information check out The Arts Centre Christchurch website.