Projects - Dunedin Law Courts Restoration Project

Dunedin Law Courts Restoration Project

  • On time & on budget $20 million upgrade
  • Substantial restoration interventions completed with high conservation standards
  • Concrete, steel, leadlight windows & modern data cables & Audio Visual Equipment created a strong future of this iconic historic building.

The Dunedin Law Courts, a notable historic building with a Category I classification on the New Zealand Historic Places Trust Register, was one of the first works designed by John Campell and built in 1901-1902. The building was constructed from dark Port Chalmers breccia stone with the lightly coloured Oamaru stone used to accent the building's features. The building is topped with a roof of slate and granite.

The building was closed in 2011 when engineers found that parts of the building didn't meet the 34% threshold level required of the National Building Standard to be allowed to remain open. While the future of the building was determined operations were moved to a temporary Dunedin location. After receiving pressure in 2015 from the Dunedin City Council, community petitions, and other lobbying efforts the Government agreed to save the Dunedin Law Courts

Sixty-six tonnes of reinforcing steel bands and more than 475 cubic metres of concrete were used to strengthen the building. The external features are now bolted onto the building, to help prevent possible earthquake damage and danger in the future. Piles were injected 14m into the ground to reinforce the building in areas that used to be supported by only the harbour foreshore land that was deemed unsuitable for the purpose by modern requirements. 66 leadlight windows that had been damaged during the process of stone cleaning in the 1990s were also restored.

The improvements benefit interior and exterior public realms: the streetscape is enhanced by reinstated lace-like wrought-iron decoration, cruciform finials and repaired stone tourelles, while the interior is enhanced by carefully reinstated carved timber paneling, and plasterwork and stair detailing. Around 50 kilometres of modern data cabling now runs through the building and modern audio-visual equipment has been installed in the courtrooms.

On winning the Southern Heritage Restoration Award, the jury said of this project,

Constructed in 1900, the category 1-listed Dunedin Law Courts is a charming and respected way-marker within Dunedin’s history. Thanks to a recent refurbishment, an equally long future has also been assured.

The mark of excellent heritage restoration is the apparent effortlessness that belies the complexity of work – and that is the case here. Substantial interventions have been achieved with sensitivity and to high conservation standards. The improvements benefit interior and exterior public realms: the streetscape is enhanced by reinstated lace-like wrought-iron decoration, cruciform finials and repaired stone tourelles, while the interior is enhanced by carefully reinstated carved timber panelling, and plasterwork and stair detailing.

Project Details

Contract Value
$20M
Contract Period
15 Months
Year of Completion
Project Location