The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, Christchurch


The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora and Diggers NZ


The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora, 2 Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch

Project Overview

The Arts Centre Te Matatiki Toi Ora is an entire city block of 23 heritage buildings located in the heart of Christchurch. The site was formerly used by Canterbury College and is now occupied by a variety of galleries, museums, cinemas, boutique retailers, eateries and bars, events, educational and creative classes and hireable venues. It is a much loved and iconic piece of architecture in Canterbury. Following the events of the Canterbury Earthquake Sequence, the onsite buildings required restoration, rebuild and strengthening works.

ENGEO’s environmental expertise supported the refurbishment of an iconic building in the city, allowing it to open on time so that local communities could enjoy the space once again.

Engeo's Role

ENGEO was engaged by The Arts Centre to assist with the restoration work of the historic ‘FA Block’ in regards to asbestos works in both building material and soil. Diggers NZ also engaged ENGEO to provide environmental support during the foundation refurbishment of ‘F Block’ following the accidental discovery of potentially contaminated material.


For the asbestos services, the areas of concern were beneath existing floorboards and were associated with pipe lagging material. ENGEO were required to provide information into the vertical and lateral extent of the asbestos in the subfloor area. Other building materials such as timber and crushed concrete were also present in the subfloor, making assessment and sampling for asbestos a difficult task. As the original wooden floorboards were to be kept and reused at the site, visual assessments were required to be staged.

For the environmental support services, coal tar material was located during the structural foundation repair works. The identification and the subsequent removal of the material, along with the protection of the construction workers was a challenge due to the location of the material beneath ground level whilst trying to avoid contaminating other material for offsite disposal. As the building is historical, measures to remove the material had to be considered so as to not affect the surrounding building materials.

Solution and Outcome

For the asbestos services project, ENGEO designed the soil sampling in a grid formation to ensure that all areas of the subfloor were investigated and sampled. ENGEO used visual lines of evidence of surface soil conditions and proximity to the asbestos lagged pipes in the design of the soil sampling. Regular visits during the removal works allowed ENGEO to identify potential areas of concern and manage the safe removal of the asbestos contaminated material.
For the environmental support services, ENGEO liaised with the onsite contractor to ensure that there were safe working practices for the workers, such as correct PPE, whilst also using dedicated stockpiles of the contaminated material away from other material required to be disposed offsite. This allowed for a smaller disposal fee for the contaminated material.

The identification of asbestos and coal tar at the site allowed the client and relevant subcontractors to correctly dispose of contaminated material to appropriate facilities whilst also ensuring that the projects progressed in the agreed timeframes. The quick turnaround of site attendance, recommendations and analysis results also meant that there were no un-necessary hold ups for the refurbishment works.

ENGEO pride ourselves on quick responsive communication with clients and throughout this project we demonstrated our dedication to the client through call-outs for emergency discoveries and to provide a level of service fit for the redevelopment of the historic and iconic building in Christchurch.


“The Arts Centre engaged ENGEO in February 2019 to investigate an underfloor area where there was asbestos in the soil. Despite the complicated nature of a heritage site, and the tricky access under the floor, ENGEO carried out the investigation and provided us with a completed report bringing together all the processes, asbestos removal plan, results, and site photos & plans in a time sensitive manner.”

Liz Hodgson, Health and Safety Manager

ENGEO project team: Hazel Atkins, Gareth Oddy, Dave Robotham, Holly Eeg


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