Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre Hero

Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre

The North Canterbury town of Kaiapoi was one of the worst affected areas in the aftermath of the 2010/2011 earthquakes. The Kaiapoi library and service centre was irreparably damaged and needed to be replaced. Following its demolition in August 2012, Hawkins won the tender to construct the new Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre.

Waimakariri District Council’s aims: 

  • To replace the old library with an enhanced facility
  • To upgrade the adjacent section of Raven Quay to create a shared space environment for vehicles, cycles and pedestrians.

What we did:

We constructed the two-storey, 2000m² enhanced facility, just metres from the Kaiapoi River. It features double height space in the entry lobbies and a main circulation route between these, the museum and the art space. The building incorporates:

  • A library
  • A service centre
  • A museum
  • An art gallery
  • Meeting rooms.

The project also included upgrading the adjacent section of Raven Quay to create a shared space environment for vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Once we had completed our work, our client asked us to stay on site to fit-out the museum and to get the planned water feature up and running.

Because it’s located on high-risk land, this building required some crafty engineering to protect it against future seismic events.

  • We poured 71 reinforced concrete piles (CFA piles up to 16 metres deep) into the ground under the building. These contain monitoring tubes, which keep tabs on earthquakes and confirm the structure is still okay after an ‘event’.
  • We constructed a 30-metre long sub-surface retaining wall (with an additional 20 piles) to stop ground migration, as previously experienced, in an Easterly direction in an earthquake.
  • A seismic joint runs through the centre of the building and the stairs have been designed and built with specific seismic capacity movement areas.


Unique challenges:

  • The buckle resistant braces were drawn up and built in Utah at the same time as the structural frame was drawn up and constructed in Christchurch. The braces had to bolt directly into the structural frames with a max of 5mm tolerance (2.5mm oversized bolt holes). The braces were shipped to Lyttelton Port and arrived on site 1 week earlier than needed and bolted perfectly into the structure without any intervention. The internal bracing has been intentionally left exposed, to allow people to see its structure (a popular design choice at the time of its construction).
  • We had to carefully plan what we would need when and to pre-order certain items well in advance given their long lead times. For example, we ordered the bluestone paving early to ensure a late delivery didn’t hold up the programme. This quality finished exterior product complements the hardwood seating, bike stands and lighting through the traffic/pedestrian shared space area.


The outcome:

The Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre was officially opened on Saturday 17 January 2015, providing a much needed boost to Kaiapoi, one of the areas most affected by the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

More than just a library, it provides a good array of learning and recreational facilities and is a community hub. As the first anchor project which opened post-earthquakes, it’s a symbol of both the town’s recovery and its future.