Aigantighe House to close following seismic assessment

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Published: 21 Mar 2017

The house section of the Aigantighe Art Gallery and the 37 Sophia Street public toilets are to be temporarily closed following structural assessments for earthquake resilience.

Timaru District Council is in the ongoing process of commissioning initial structural assessments of all its older buildings to ensure the safety of staff and visitors.

Aigantighe House and the toilets will now be closed to the public for more detailed assessment after an initial assessment showed both buildings as below  the 34% new building standard minimum. The modern part of the art gallery and the gardens will remain open.

Tina Rogers, Group Manager Corporate Services said: "The need for closure of the house part of Aigantighe is regrettable, much of the house is made of unreinforced masonry and it’s estimated in the initial assessment that in the event of a major earthquake it would not perform well.

“As a precautionary measure we have taken  the difficult decision to temporarily close the area to the public, staff and contractors. The majority of artworks will be removed and put into safe storage in the modern part of the building, which will continue to remain open to the public, and we will be looking to undertake a more detailed assessment of the building to see what could be done to remedy the situation.”

The South Canterbury Museum has also been assessed in the latest round of engineering reports. It was assessed at 45% of new building standard  and so can remain open while the Council investigates options to further increase its performance.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Act has been recently passed by Parliament. This has major implications for owners of non-residential buildings which could be classed as "earthquake-prone" as defined in the Building Amendment Act.

The new law will target the areas and buildings that pose the greatest risk, and puts an obligation on owners of older buildings (relative to location, use and risk) to have their buildings assessed and if required, upgraded. There is a lot of work ahead for local authorities to implement this significant building law change.

The council has published a quick guide to the responsibilities of building owners to have their properties checked and remedied. It is available to download here:

Last updated: 24 Feb 2021