Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre (Taiwhanga Rēhia), Christchurch, New Zealand

Aurecon entrusted to design Christchurch’s Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre (Taiwhanga Rehia), the largest indoor sports and aquatic centre in the Southern Hemisphere.

In September 2010, Christchurch was awakened by a 7.1 magnitude earthquake, followed by a massive 6.3 magnitude aftershock on 22 February 2011, which struck near the heart of the city.

Rebuilding central Christchurch is one of the most ambitious projects in New Zealand’s history, and is about recreating and planning for a new, resilient city

Part of the city’s Central Recovery Plan is the Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre (Taiwhanga Rēhia), a world-class venue of sporting excellence, accessible to people of all ages, abilities and sporting skills.

Taiwhanga Rēhia will provide an aquatic and indoor recreation and sport facility catering for the day-to-day needs of the leisure, sporting, recreational, education and high-performance sporting communities in the wider Canterbury region. The facility will boast a 50m, ten-lane competition swimming pool, a separate diving pool, a large aquatic leisure area, five hydroslides, fitness spaces, a competition court and nine community indoor sports courts.

Aurecon has been working on regeneration projects across Christchurch since the earthquakes and is proud to be playing a part in the rebuild.

The NZD 300 million scheme will be an anchor project for the city and a place that brings the community together after such devastating natural events. The engineering initiatives reflect the cultural narrative of the project – the connection between people, the environment and the building. This narrative was defined in close collaboration between the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, then Ōtākaro Limited, architects and Iwi community representatives.

The complex is currently under construction and will be well equipped to host local, national and international events when it opens in 2021.

Engineering the Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre

Aurecon was entrusted to provide a range of multidisciplinary engineering design services including structural, civil, geotechnical, traffic, electrical/mechanical/hydraulic building services, pool water services, surveying, fire engineering and facade peer review.

Aurecon has brought its knowledge and experience from designing significant sports and aquatic projects around the world. This has been supplemented by input during the concept phase from specialist sub-consultants Arup out of Australia, and Aquatic Engineering Design out of the USA.

Using digital capability to increase collaboration

A cloud-hosted single point of truth A360 Engineering BIM model was produced by Aurecon and this underpinned our ability to develop the design in a highly collaborative environment across multiple delivery offices, and across organisations. During the design phases, this BIM model was released to the project Quantity Surveyor for extracting real-time quantities in their CostX quantity surveying package.

Starting with unstable ground

At 30 000 square metres, the Parakiore Recreation and Sports Centre combines a large number of sport and wellness facilities under one roof on a 6-hectare site. The primary challenge of such a large-scale facility was addressing the issues below ground.

The first involved overcoming the soil liquefaction post-earthquake. Soil liquefaction occurs when saturated soil loses strength and stiffness in response to an applied stress, such as shaking during an earthquake. To rebuild on this soil is problematic, so Aurecon engineered 8 000 stone columns to be driven 12 metres below ground to support the structural integrity of the building. This is the biggest use of stone columns in New Zealand’s construction history.

The other major engineering challenge is the high water table underneath Christchurch. Aurecon had to ensure that this did not affect the stability of the swimming pools when they were emptied for maintenance. Aurecon raised the concourse floor levels to offset the risk of liquefaction induced floatation of the pools and engineered deep pool slabs to resist uplift when the pools are empty. 

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