Museum Protects its Greatest Asset

Tuesday 12 September 2017

The almost 150-year-old walls of Canterbury Museum’s neo-gothic stone buildings are breathing easier after many years, with the installation of a French drain along their southern facade.

Installing the French drainCanterbury Museum, which opened on what is now Rolleston Avenue in October 1870, sits right on the boundary of its longstanding neighbours, the Christchurch Botanic Gardens (founded 1863). Over the years, watering of the adjacent garden had affected the Museum’s basalt stone walls and foundation on the southern facade. Soil had also built up in the garden covering many of the ground level air vents, stopping the wall cavity from breathing.

To solve the problem, Museum heritage advisors Fulton Ross Team Architects proposed a relatively simple solution, a French drain. Contractors excavated a trench along the Museum’s southern facade exposing the partial remains of the original 1870s drainage channel. A perforated pipe that attracts surface water and redirects it to the city storm water drains was placed inside the new trench and the existing channel. It was then covered with gravel.

Museum Director Anthony Wright says “This is a great solution which we’ve been able to achieve working closely with the Botanic Gardens and Christchurch City Council heritage experts.

“We have an amazing array of taonga (treasures) in the collection but the Benjamin Mountfort designed heritage buildings are first amongst them. With so much history and heritage lost in the earthquakes, we need to look after the heritage buildings that remain. We’re fully committed to making sure that these fine buildings which date back to 1872 and 1877 will be here in perpetuity.”

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