29 Mar 2016

More than a year into the repair and strengthening of the Sign of the Takahe, the project is progressing well, despite unique engineering challenges

Newsline had a tour of the construction progress recently and found the heritage building well on the way to its former glory.

Richie Moyle, Christchurch City Council Programme Manager Heritage Rebuild, said despite particular engineering challenges around the roof, and ‘tying’ the building together, good progress had been made.

"There are no quick fixes with these heritage buildings, and it’s often not until you get into them, and see the bones of them, that you find out what you’re dealing with," Mr Moyle said.

“That was the case with the Sign of the Takahe, and it’s meant we’ve had to stop along the way and develop some unique engineering solutions for what we’ve found.”

The Sign of the Takahe was a restaurant and function centre before its closure after the February 2011 earthquake. It suffered extensive damage in the quake including cracks to the plaster and stone masonry, and the loss of several parapet stones and chimneys.

The building was initially wrapped to protect it from the weather, and that in itself required a special engineering project, taking into account the size of the building, and wind-loading and bracing.

"The challenges so far have included trying to create a solution to tie together all the multitude of roof faces, and also create a diaphragm to hold the building together, without it being visible in this Heritage listed building,” Mr Moyle said.

"The solution has involved taking out the entire floor on the mid-level and building a diaphragm around the whole building, which will then be covered up when the flooring is replaced,” Mr Moyle said. “Because this is a heritage site every piece of strengthening work we do needs to be unseen when we’re finished, so it’s a lot of extra work and requires different solutions to other buildings.”

The building will be repaired and strengthened to 67 per cent of New Building Standard. The Sign of the Takahe is a City Plan Group One building and an Historic Places Trust Category One building, making it a building of national significance. The building and its setting have been assessed as having heritage value beyond the Canterbury region.

“What we want to do is ensure this building will be strong enough to outlast all of us, and go on for another hundred years as an iconic part of Christchurch’s heritage,” Mr Moyle said.

Find out more about Christchurch heritage.