Earthquake-resilient library opens in Christchurch

19 October 2018
Credit: Schmidt Hammer Lassen
  • Schmidt Hammer Lassen

Schmidt Hammer Lassen



New Zealand

Schmidt Hammer Lassen design proves a hit with residents

On 12th October, the opening ceremony took place for Tūranga library in Christchurch, designed by Schmidt Hammer Lassen in collaboration with Architectus. The new five-storey, 9,500 sq m central library is of nine anchor projects identified as vital to the redevelopment of the city centre following the devastating earthquakes that took place in 2010 and 2011. The building has proved to be a hit among local residents, with nearly 13,000 visits recorded in the three days since the ceremony.

The opening day included a full programme of events, including a lecture by the designer’s Founding Partner Morten Schmidt, who stated: “Tūranga is the kind of multi-faceted project that layers architectural interest with significant cultural relevance. It has been a privilege to design a project that not only fulfills the need for a new central library, but also one whose mission of restoring the soul of the city includes the deep cultural heritage of Ngāi Tūāhuriri, the local Māori people.”

Early in the design process, the architects collaborated with Matapopore Charitable Trust, an organization whose objective is to ensure the values, aspirations and narratives of the local Ngāi Tūāhuriri people are realised throughout the recovery of Christchurch. Their influence on the design is substantial, from building materials to physical orientation.

Another important consideration was resilience to the natural disasters responsible for destroying the previous building. Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers, the structural engineering firm on the project, designed the library to sustain minimal damage during a large earthquake thanks to an integrated, self-centring mechanism that allows the building to sway and then return to its original position.

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said the $92 million library marks the return of the area's cultural and community heart, acting as a “game changer” for the central city. She explained how the community helped shape the overall concept, commenting: “Nearly 2500 public ideas helped the designers develop the final plan, and many of those have now come to life inside the building. I’m confident that every visitor is going to feel very proud of their new central library." 

Lucy Nordberg
TenderStream Head of Research

This competition was first published on 26.07.2013 by TenderStream here

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