A few months back, eastern Christchurch celebrated the opening of Taiora QEII Recreation and Sport Centre – both ahead of schedule and under budget. For the first time since the February 2011 earthquake, people living in the east have aquatic and fitness facilities that they can call their own. The new $38.6 million centre replaces the former Commonwealth games venue that was significantly damaged and subsequently demolished.
The 5500-square-metre facility features a 130m long hydroslide, a 25x25m lap pool, a toddlers pool with adjoining splash pad, a lazy river, a learn-to-swim pool, a hydrotherapy pool, a spa, sauna and steam room. The hydroslide boasts New Zealand’s first Aquasphere, where riders enter a giant sphere and bank around the walls before dropping back into the high-speed twists and turns. The building also houses fitness studios, meeting rooms, administration spaces and a café, perfect for keeping an eye on the kids splashing around in the nearby toddlers pool.
Among the engineering innovations present are the moveable pool floor and ground improvement works. The 25m 10-lane pool has a moveable floor, which can be raised and lowered to allow for deep-water activity at one end and shallower activities such as aqua fitness and swimming lessons at the other. As the area suffered major liquefaction in the earthquakes, the building footprint sits atop some two thousand rammed aggregate piers (RAP’s). The 600mm diameter RAP’s extend to a depth of 4m and serve to create a stiff soil crust that supports the foundations and reduces the susceptibility to liquefaction and differential settlement.
Structex’s Lyttelton office provided full structural engineering services as part of the design-build team. The client, Christchurch City Council, provided a conceptual scheme that was progressed to a developed design stage at tender. The entire detailed design, consent and construction process took less then 17 months to complete, a notable achievement in itself.
As one local newspaper put it, ‘For nearby residents, the days of trekking across town for a swim are over; QEII is back in business and set to make a splash for decades to come’.