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Chch high-rise apartments now on a lean

Published: 12:41PM Thursday March 03, 2011 Source: ONE News

  • The Gallery Apartment building (Source: Supplied)
    The Gallery Apartment building - Source: Supplied

One of Christchurch's tallest and newest buildings faces demolition after it was found to be leaning.

The 14-storey Gallery Apartments, opposite the Christchurch Art Gallery where the Civil Defence temporary headquarters is based, needs to be shored up in case of a major aftershock, its developer Grant MacKinnon has been told.

MacKinnon says the three-and-a-half-year-old building on Gloucester Street suffered significant damage in last week's quake.

"Whether it has to come down or is repairable I don't know ... I don't think people will be living in it for some time."

Eight of the 18 top-end apartments sold a year before they were finished, despite their $1-$2.5 million price tag.

The building was controversial when it was being built, but MacKinnon says it did the job it was required to do under the building code by staying upright, allowing people to get out.

However he fears it could fall on the Art Gallery if there is another big earthquake.

The 13-storey Victoria Apartments building in the central city has also been left on a lean following the quake.

The future of that block, on Armagh Street, is also unclear, after it was found to have moved as a result of the quake.

Liquefaction has affected the ground underneath, but the structure is sound.

Owner Stuart Leck, who lives in one of the apartments, says the building is leaning 450 millimetres out towards the road from top to bottom.

Leck says he is unsure what is going to happen because he has not heard from anyone.

Questions over building sites

Meanwhile, two of the buildings that suffered catastrophic damage in last Tuesday's quake were built on soil prone to "a large increase in shaking".

The Canterbury Television (CTV) and Pyne Gould Corporation (PGC) buildings collapsed and claimed the most lives in Christchurch.

The Quotable Value property-hazard reports on both buildings found they were built on soil prone to "a large increase in shaking" and had a high susceptibility to liquefaction, reports the Otago Daily Times.

But those buildings aren't alone - the hazards identified in the QV reports would likely apply to other buildings in Christchurch because of the sandy ground conditions.

GNS Science says the devastating magnitude 6.3 earthquake, centred southeast of Christchurch, was part of the aftershock sequence that has been occurring since the September magnitude 7.1 quake near Darfield, 40km west of the city.

Dr Kelvin Berryman, from GNS, said seismic energy travelled in waves and could be reflected off hard surfaces, much like sound waves.

With the epicentre of last Tuesday's earthquake in the Port Hills, a large amount of energy could have been reflected off hard volcanic rock at depth. He said this compounded the impact of the earthquake at the surface and caused the massive ground shaking.

Liquefaction, which has been a major problem in Christchurch, is also more likely to occur in granular soils such as the silty sands common around Christchurch.

Owners of the CTV and PGC buildings say they were given clearance after the last big quake in September and engineering reports had been obtained.

The government has ordered an inquiry into the safety of affected buildings.

- With Newstalk ZB

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