Shovels break ground at Sacred Heart Cathedral


The latest heritage project for Team Architects will be commencing on site shortly, at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Hill Street, Thorndon, Wellington.

The parish made the decision to close the Cathedral in July 2018 after engineering reports found an element of the building to be earthquake prone giving an NBS of less than 33%. Temporary roof strops provided some immediate protection for adjacent, more recent, buildings within the Cathedral complex allowing them to be used by the parish. A project team of Team Architects, Dunning Thornton and LT McGuinness have since worked together in designing, pricing and preparing for the necessary strengthening works. A contract with LT McGuinness was signed this week by Father David Dowling on behalf of the Cathedral Parish. (Pictured above)

The Cathedral, designed by Lower Hutt born Francis Petre, was opened in 1901. It is listed category 1 on the register of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga . The heritage aspects of the Cathedral’s interior, important to both the building’s worship and venue use, will remain unchanged. The strengthening steel work to brace and re-connect the original roof trusses will, by appropriate/innovative design, be contained within the roof space.

Earlier in the month, the project had the potential to be stalled after funding fell through due to the covid-19 worldwide pandemic. Thankfully Wellington’s Mayor and Councillors unanimously voted to contribute a special $120,000 grant. The one-off ‘out of round’ contribution from the Council’s Built Heritage Incentive Fund was granted to help ensure the $3.3 million strengthening works proceeded.

Mayor Andy Foster, who seconded the funding proposal, describes the 119-year-old cathedral as one of the four or five most important landmark buildings in the city that still needs strengthening and is eligible for the fund.

Councillor Iona Pannett, who holds the Council’s Building Resilience and Heritage portfolio, moved the funding proposal. She said the Cathedral is one of only seven basilicas in New Zealand. It is noted for its excellent acoustics and its use as a public venue for various events including concerts and recitals. Cr Pannett addedit is important that the Council is able to invest in important projects around the city, even in tough times. “This is a well thought-out project. Every building that comes off our quake-prone building list makes the city safer.”

The project is expected to be completed in time for the building’s 120th anniversary in 2021.


Sacred Heart Wellington

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