Meeting the Earthquake Challenge

– a $9.35 million project

The major earthquakes of July 2013 brought an urgency to seismic strengthening work throughout Wellington.

Plans were already underway to strengthen St Mary of the Angels, which meets only 15% to 20% of the current earthquake code. However the earthquakes of July 2013, and the safety concerns they raised, meant there was no time to lose.

The decision was made to close the Church. Design drawings for the strengthening work, resource consent and building consent were signed off in May 2014. The project has two stages – stage one is the foundation work and shear walls, and stage two the portals and roof. Work will begin on stage one when the funding of $3 million is secured. It is estimated that the project will cost $9.35 million and take 18 months.

Significant strengthening work is required to bring the Church as close to 100 percent of the earthquake code as possible.

New foundation beams will be introduced beneath new concrete shear walls and piles

will tie the beams to bedrock. A new concrete floor slab, with integral tie beams between the existing portal frames, will replace the existing floor.

Above floor level, concrete shear walls will be introduced to the front and rear of the nave, and also around the side chapel walls. The nave columns to the side chapels will be wrapped in carbon fibre to increase their strength.

At ceiling level the existing portals will be replaced with new concrete portals,

connected with steel beams running the length of the building. Above the existing ceiling, cross-bracing will tie the portals together.

Finally a new copper roof will replace the existing roof along with a new gutter and downpipe system. When the work is complete, the only noticeable change to the interior of the church will be the new shear walls in the nave.

Diagram of  necessary work to strengthen St Mary of the Angels against earthquakes.