JOHN CHAMBERS BUILDING (XERO HOUSE)

PROJECT TYPE: HERITAGE

USE: COMMERCIAL OFFICE

LOCATION: JERVOIS QUAY

CLIENT: WILLIS BOND AND CO

ARCHITECTS: STUDIO PACIFIC ARCHITECTURE

PROJECT TIMEFRAME: 2011-2012

AWARDS: EXCELLENCE IN CONSTRUCTION HERITAGE AND ADAPTIVE REUSE, NZ PROPERTY COUNCIL 2012

Constructed in 1918 on reclaimed land, the three-storey John Chambers building was in a dilapidated state when work began early in 2011. The big concrete walls that form its wedge shape and distinctive ‘bull nose’ had never been strengthened.

Drawing on lessons from the Christchurch earthquakes, the building was seismically strengthened to 100 percent of the building code. Innovations included a new concrete seismic frame constructed inside the old building and then connected to it. Another was the use of rock anchors for the re-piling, a now common practice.

The upgrade also had to preserve heritage features such as the corbels, the moulds that jut from the outside of the building around the first-floor level. Their adhesion had failed and they were starting to hang dangerously. Each corbel was re-fixed by drilling rods through it and grouting it from the top.

The floors have a high stud with long horizontal bands of windows that allow excellent views and natural light. Each one was taken out, replaced and re-flashed. The concrete beams were exposed and either painted or sandblasted as part of the architectural finish.

Tenants include Morrison and Co on the top floor, and Xero on the first and ground floors. Both companies chose LT McGuinness to complete the fit-outs.

With the Free Ambulance Building, the NZX Centre and Shed 22 across the road, the John Chambers building is one of a cluster of heritage buildings restored by LT McGuinness. The company also constructed the neighbouring multi-residential and office complex, One Market Lane.