Christchurch's $1.5 million heritage Edmonds Band Rotunda rebuild delayed until 2018

The remains of the Edmonds Band Rotunda on the banks of the Avon River.
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The remains of the Edmonds Band Rotunda on the banks of the Avon River.

Christchurch's Edmonds Band Rotunda on the Avon riverbank will now not be rebuilt until at least the second half of next year.

The historic rotunda, on Cambridge Tce near Manchester St in the central city, was demolished in 2012 after its supporting structures were damaged in the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes. The dome was saved and sits on the ground next to the curved staircase and nearby punt stop, which is all behind a high fence.

In September the Christchurch City Council agreed to spend $1.5 million rebuilding the rotunda and retaining walls and was to start work in early 2017.

Demolition of the rotunda in 2012.
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Demolition of the rotunda in 2012.

The rotunda was built in 1929 as a gift to the city from businessman and philanthropist Thomas Edmonds, of  "Sure to Rise" baking powder and cookbook fame.

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Christchurch City Council head of parks Andrew Rutledge said the project was among capital works deferred for budgetary reasons. 

Christchurch Heritage Trust chairwoman Anna Crighton said the delay was "extremely disappointing".

The rotunda as a restaurant in 2004.
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The rotunda as a restaurant in 2004.

Council needed to keep the rebuild complication-free, stop quibbling and "just get on with it", she said.

"This is another piece of heritage just sitting and deteriorating. It will have to sit out there for another winter." 

Crighton said the rotunda formed part of a cultural landscape Edmonds created that included the rows of poplar trees and the stone clocktower and telephone cabinet in the next block between Manchester and Madras streets.

The band rotunda in the 1930s.
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The band rotunda in the 1930s.

"It's such a small amount of money in the whole scheme of things. It would do such a lot to improve that part of the city."

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Rutledge said that if approved for funding next year, the project would go to tender in July 2018 and construction would start soon afterwards.

The plan approved by council involved adding retractable glazing so the rotunda could be used during bad weather. It would be used as a music venue, not as a restaurant as it had been since a mid-1980s conversion.

The rotunda, which was designed by city architect Victor Hean in high-renaissance style, was 12 metres high and just over 10m in diameter, with a basement under the bandstand floor.

Central Christchurch's other band rotunda, the more modest Bandsmen's Memorial Rotunda in Hagley Park, near the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, still stands and has already been repaired and strengthened.

Opening an exhibition of New Zealand band rotunda photographs last month at the National Library in Wellington, co-curator Michael Brown described the structures as "probably our most important form of musical architecture".

 - Stuff

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