This project involved the renovation of an early 1970’s catholic chapel situated in the heart of St Patrick’s College in Upper Hutt. Since its beginnings the chapel has been integral to the special character of the school. It was crucial that this chapel was finished in time for graduation-type events held in the Hall Atrium. The aim of the project was to strengthen the chapel, repair water damage and retain as much of the original building as possible.
Re-strengthening of the chapel included the main atrium, entrance foyers, aisles and roof. The essential structural strengthening required removing the roof and inserting steel bracing, before installing the original roof back in place. It was challenging as the project was carried out over winter. To combat severe weather, a substantial amount of scaffolding was used to fully tent the chapel with shrink wrap. The size of this roof comprised a span of approximately 35m wide and 20m deep giving an overall size of 700m2.
The material used in the existing ceiling in the main chapel roof is no longer manufactured. To keep the chapel in its original condition Armstrong Downes Commercial preserved the roof in situ and retained the feature Rimu timber ceiling shiplap. The main chapel roof was completed with diamond deck and clip lock metal cladding.
Renovations involved removing a vast amount of water damage in the structure and ceiling lining. To combat this, the structure was replaced with a Rimu shiplap and polyurethane stained feature wall lining.
To preserve the architectural and special aesthetic character of the building, once all the re-strengthening work was completed, the Chapel was completely returned to the original look and function with all steel bracing and re-strengthening work completely concealed.
Special Info / Challenges:
One of the main challenges of this project was the practicality of installing the steel bracing into the building while it was fully tented and scaffolded. This required a staged sequence as the existing structure was so unstable. There was a threat that pre-cast wall panels would have fallen outwards, collapsing the whole building. To mitigate the risk, the interior of the Chapel was internally scaffolded and the entire roof propped up throughout this complex process.
The roof was taken off in sections to retain the structural integrity of the building at all times. This involved taking a section of roof off, applying structural steel, reinstating the roof and then moving to the next section.
This was achieved in 7 distinct stages:
Stages 1 – 3 happened initially on the left hand side of the building while stages 4 – 6 took place on the right side. The final stage (7) was to secure the centre of the atrium. Due to the weight of steel, large sections were brought in under the tent and were placed underneath the purloins, fixed in place and then moved to the next section. This unusual and carefully planned programme ensured the integrity of the building and minimised the risk on site.
The elements were also a hazard as, in effect, the shrink wrapped building could act as a massive wind sail. A specialist scaffolding engineer was employed to design the external and internal shrink wrapped scaffolding to minimise risk. To alleviate the potential danger, several interesting techniques were employed to ensure the safety of the site and integrity of the building during the strengthening process. 12 x 1 tonne weights were placed around the perimeter of the site to keep the scaffold tied down. In addition, 25 x 2.5 tonne strops tied the plastic shrink wrap and scaffolding back to the main building structure.