Old St Pauls is one of New Zealand’s greatest heritage places, and a much-loved icon of Wellington. Constructed from fine native timbers, it is considered one of the best examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the world.
Like many buildings in the Capital, Old St Pauls was affected by the strong shaking of the 2016 Kaikoura earthquake, widening by between 15cm and 100cm in places. To protect the cathedral for the future, Maycroft was engaged to undertake structural strengthening to the buildings’ interior, repair cracks and repaint the exterior and undertake fire and electrical upgrades.
Retaining the character of the Category 1 Heritage Building is vital, so Maycroft has worked with designers to ensure all structural steel for the seismic strengthening is hidden inside existing framing or other details and any timber cut away replaced with old natural timber to match. Sprinklers are hidden or painted to remain discrete.
The former cathedral’s wooden construction makes it naturally more flexible and resilient, however it was built using a "mortise and tenon" (a mortise and tenon joint connects two pieces of wood, mainly when they are at right angles) technique - meaning there was nothing to hold joints shut. This offers a great benefit in the seismic upgrade works, enabling Maycroft to retain much more of the heritage fabric and simply augment what is already there.
The cathedral is delicate, and our team has had to plan and execute works with the utmost accuracy to prevent any damage to heritage features such as organs, stained glass windows and columns. Old St Pauls has undergone several different alterations over the years, so it has been challenging working with the various construction technique used.