Christchurch’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is Open!

Christchurch’s Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is Open!

Prime Minister, Bill English officially opened the Christchurch Justice Precinct in September 2017  Photo Credit: DAVID WALKER/STUFF

Christchurch’s mighty Justice and Emergency Services Precinct is open for business. As New Zealand’s largest multi-agency development, the Precinct earns a prestigious place in the country’s history. The building co-locates the Ministry of Justice, NZ Police, Department of Corrections, St John and the New Zealand Fire Service. Around 2000 people will work in, or use, the sleek and imposing 42,000 m2 Precinct each day.

The Justice and Emergency Services Precinct was one of the first anchor developments planned for the post-earthquake city and from the beginning was designated an agency of continuity for future disasters. The Precinct, encompassing three buildings and a car park, needed to meet structural requirements for an Importance Level (IL) 4 building. Such buildings are highly resilient and designed to withstand major earthquake shaking — a critical factor if the Precinct is to perform its function.

This type of resilience is difficult to achieve and usually expensive.  Based on previous analysis, our clients believed that costly pile foundations were the only way to achieve IL4 on the central Christchurch site.

Exceptional thinking happens when people put their heads together, and the Justice Precinct foundation solution is a great example of how clients can reduce their costs and technical challenges by bringing in a cohesive multi-discipline team.

Tonkin + Taylor’s geotechnical experts worked alongside environmental and contaminated land specialists. Together they devised a non-pile solution which safely incorporated existing contaminated soil into the Precinct’s foundations. The result? An innovative raft foundation that delivered soundly on its IL4 requirements and was also very cost effective.

The solution entailed compacting the contaminated soil together with cement for use in the raft foundation base, which reduced the need for expensive piles. Compaction significantly reduced the volume of contaminated soil requiring offsite disposal. These major cost-saving measures cut overall project costs by around $500,000.

We couldn’t be more impressed with the finished Justice and Emergency Services Precinct, and are delighted to have played an important part in supporting what is now one of Canterbury’s iconic landmarks.

T+T provided civil, geotechnical, planning and environmental services. A more complex description of the foundation development process is described here.