CERA and Pediments…..

On a completely different subject for a change.   Pediments: From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article is about the architectural element. Pediment.

A pediment is an element in classical, neoclassical and baroque architecture, and derivatives therefrom, consisting of a gable, originally of a triangular shape, placed above the horizontal structure of the (entablature), typically supported by columns. The tympanum, or triangular area within the pediment, was often decorated with relief sculpture depicting scenes from Greek and Roman mythology or allegorical figures.

Whew sounds complicated!

Well the Duncans Building had 3 pediments.  (One has been deconstructed at the other end of the street for safety reasons.)IMGP3856

In our case we unfortunately own half a pediment. (141 High street is owned by Business Building Systems (Australia) Ltd they are the owner of the other half of said structure.)

Following the first earthquake in September 2010 we immediately secured our half of the pediment to make sure that no lives were put at risk.

Many pediments and facades in the city fell on February 22nd 2011.  And lives were lost as a result of this. I can honestly say that the work we did means we can sleep at night in comfort knowing that we did not harm anyone. In fact we think we saved some lives by doing the work we did. (There was a street cafe close to this structure.)

Spot the problem.

Below is a photo of the front of “Our Jointly Owned” pediment. The pediment weighs about 8 tons and is made up of concrete, limestone and bricks. (It is held in place by gravity, and is not connected to the brickwork underneath, when you lean on it, it wobbles!  Not very comforting is it?) Not to be taken lightly!

On the left you will see some extra bracing, that will be removed shortly as soon as I can get to it. You will notice that the brick work/mortar on the right hand side of the photo is poor. We own the left hand side of this structure.

139-141 High St Pediment

The back of the Pediment, notice that the right hand side is tied back but not the left hand side.

The back of the Pediment, notice that the right hand side is tied back but not the left hand side.

A side on view of the steel bracing used to tie back the pediment.

A side on view of the steel bracing used to tie back the pediment.

Now my problem is this: unfortunately only half the pediment is tied back.

The bracing stops the pediment from falling forwards towards the street and generally holds the structure down.

I have struggled for 2 plus years to get someone, any one, to get the land owner to tie back this missile.  To no avail.

I have approached the landowners agent, CERA the Christchurch City Council, all to no avail.

When we have another good shake, half of the pediment will fall towards the street, taking out both our verandahs and probably 1/3 of our frontage as well as probably all of the neighbours frontage, causing massive damage and expense.

I am sorry I don’t get it. What part of the CERA section 38 “Make safe” document does this land owner/CERA/Anyone not get?

How come they have been able to ignore this issue for 2 plus years?? (Their argument, I assume,  is that the street is locked up and no public access is allowed. My argument is that repairs need to proceed so that we can safely open.)

I notice in Wellington that the Wellington City Council can secure an absentee land owners lift shaft in 4 days. link here: http://wellington.scoop.co.nz/?p=57719

I have no answers, just incredulity at the stupidity of it all.

Finally after much discussion, we have decided to secure the damn thing ourselves in an attempt to mitigate any damage that may be caused to our frontage by the collapse of this structure. ( Personally if I had my way I would have pulled it down long ago.  I have been discouraged from doing this by the Heritage lobby and our Engineer.  I think that both are living in the past and need to get “with the new environment”.  Funnily enough I have been told by my Engineer “that securing this structure is a very prudent idea.”

Oh humm silliness is alive and well in Christchurch.