The recent Christchurch earthquakes have prompted New Zealanders to take action in protecting historic and significant buildings. As a result, there has been a noticeable increase in structural strengthening projects around the country.

The Whats On Report team recently took a trip underneath Parliament for a close-up look at one of the world’s first significant base isolation systems. The iconic Parliament House and Library buildings were originally built between 1883 and 1922. Eventually it was realised both buildings were extremely vulnerable to movement from the active Wellington fault line located only 400 metres away. Between 1992 and 1995, Warren & Mahoney and Holmes Consulting Group worked together to implement base isolation and structural strengthening as part of the solution to protect the buildings from potential seismic damage.

More than 400 rubber bearings were installed between the structure and its foundations, allowing movement of up to 30cm in any direction. Wellington engineer, Dr Bill Robinson of Robinson Seismic designed the system. The Parliament Buildings are now protected from earthquakes measuring up to 7.5 on the Richter scale.

Whats On Report have several large projects in planning for seismic strengthening to historic and significant buildings around New Zealand. Strengthening projects at Wellington Town Hall and the Municipal Office Building are currently in planning (J115033). A similar project for the Mercy Hospital in Hobson is timed to happen in approximately two months (J109761). A large number of structural strengthening projects are coming up for the South Island region, centralised around Christchurch. Whats On Report will be reporting on these projects in the coming months. Contact Us for more information.

Whats On Team visits Parliament in Wellington. From left to right: Eugene Zhang, Anna Geddes, Hannah Dunn, Emma Mayer and Ben Lynch. Photography by Ella Trotter.

Story by Whats On Reporters Emma Mayer and Hannah Dunn


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