Archived Stories

Demolition work defines Christchurch

With more than 700 buildings already down or destined for demolition, the face of Christchurch bears little resemblance to what it did a year ago.

People who have visited the red zone on bus or walking tours all comment on the absence of the old – the facades, the windows, the architecture and the detail of the nineteenth and early twentieth century buildings -- which gave our city so much character and charm. They are also commenting on the deconstruction of a number of modern and sizeable multi-storey buildings.

Seeing the demise of these old buildings is sad for us at Leighs Construction, too. On the one hand we recognise the importance of the task at hand in making the city safe and ready for rebuild, but on the other we also recognise that many of our stakeholders are architects and others from the construction community who spent years of effort and passion constructing wonderful buildings that are now being demolished.

Leighs Construction has been heavily involved from the outset with the deconstruction work and our decision to join forces with American firm, Grant Mackay Demolition to form Mackay Leighs Demolition proved timely.  The Americans are highly experienced and knowledgeable within the deconstruction industry.  They have a wide range of demolition techniques which have been invaluable in Christchurch, including high reach nibbling and conventional deconstruction. Some very large equipment items were shipped from the USA including a 41m high reach excavator.

Several multi-storey buildings in central Christchurch have already been demolished by the JV, including the Establishment and the Copthorne Hotel in Durham St.  The Gallery Apartments are currently coming down and a start has been made on the Brannigans building. Mackay Leighs has already demolished other buildings such as Briscoes in Salisbury St and Glassons in Cashel St.