Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct

Project Features

  • State of the art purpose built facility
  • 42,000 sqm across five levels
  • Three interconnected buildings
  • Importance Level 4 (IL4) seismic design
  • Artesian water feed central plant
  • High efficiency energy recovery systems
  • BIM technology utilised
  • Large scale of prefabricated and preassembled HVAC equipment
  • Active Chilled Beams cooling system
Year Completed

Project Details

A Christchurch anchor project and state-of-the-art government justice facility.

Officially opened in September 2017, the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is the largest combined justice and emergency services facility in Australasia and was the first major project delivered by the New Zealand Government under the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan following the devastating 2010 earthquakes.

The 42,000 sqm purpose-built facility is made up of three separate buildings: the Justice Building, Emergency Services Building and a dedicated car park building to house operational vehicles from the various agencies.

Spread across five levels it accommodates 19 multi-jurisdictional courtrooms, custodial spaces, an Emergency Operations Centre, as well as facilities for the NZ Fire Service, NZ Police, NZ Corrections, St John’s Ambulance and management teams of the Ministry of Civil Defence, Christchurch City Council and Environment Canterbury.

The precinct is designed to Importance Level 4 standard with capacity to withstand significant seismic events and remain in operation during a critical incident to provide central services at a local, regional, and/or national level.

Awarded the mechanical services design and construct contract by Fletcher Construction, the experience of the Benmax team proved crucial in delivering the design and technology requirements of the milestone facility.

Design considerations:

  • Open and accessible spaces – the precinct design purposefully aims to provide large open spaces, accessible public entries and free flowing movement paths throughout the complex, unlike traditional justice buildings, with best-practice interior environments and large-scale use of glass.
  • Interchangeable workspaces – buildings are carefully designed with adaptable and flexible workspaces capable of supporting day to day business, with an ability to be reconfigured to create space in an emergency situation.
  • Artesian water supply – the facility utilises the underground aquifer for heating and cooling of the central plant. The underground water layer is a reasonably consistent temperature year-round. The precinct system allows the groundwater to be extracted (using water wells) and pumped through heat exchangers. This allows for the gaining of heat, or loss of heat, from the ground.
  • Building Information Modelling – design and construction of the facility utilised BIM technology to ensure project partners used a consistent set of detailed and accurate drawings for the structural design, services (water, power, HVAC), engineering, fire etc. With Benmax experienced in the use of 3D modelling, it took on a lead role within the project team to drive its use on the build.


Mechanical services:

Key system characteristics

  • Heating and cooling via high efficiency heat pumps
  • Heating and cooling with redundancy capability
  • Artesian water supply for cooling to plant
  • Heating and cooling to spaces via intelligent four pipe fan coils
  • Fresh air to spaces via high efficiency heat recovery Air Handling Units
  • Natural ventilation combined with smoke extract to atrium
  • Complex control and reticulation to supply varied water temperatures to the complex
  • Building Management System (BMS)


Self-contained Emergency Services Building

The Emergency Services Building is a self-sufficient building housing the multi-agency Emergency Operations Centre.  The building has a base isolated structure and mechanical and electrical services capable of continuous standalone operation for at least 72 hours in the event of an emergency or critical incident.

Building system features:

  • Four main Air Handling Units providing fresh air to floors – two at each end of the building
  • Back up Air Handling Units upon main Air Handling Unit failure
  • Complex control and reticulation to supply varied water temperatures to the complex – 14 degree water to chilled beams, 7 degree water to Fan Coil Units
  • Two water cooled heat pump chillers for heating
  • Various modes for cooling
  • Power fed from two switchboards to facilitate redundancy.


Benmax successfully completed work on the milestone project in 2017.


“Benmax bring significant design engineering and BIM modelling expertise to allow modular construction to be implemented early in the process. This early involvement is critical. It not only brings construction delivery benefits but adds value for any client, not just with engineering improvement, but ultimately significant cost savings.”
Fletcher Construction
Mechanical services for 42,000 sqm state of the art government facility from concept and design to commissioning.

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We design, build and maintain specialised mechanical systems for commercial and industrial facilities to provide healthy, safe and efficient indoor environments for people to live, work and play. We’ve spent three decades building our reputation. We’ve done that by doing a good job, and getting another job.

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