SBS House comes down

Last updated 17:00 17/10/2011
Julian Ramsay

Demolition of the Peter Beaven designed SBS House, corner Manchester and Worcester St.

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The "sobering" video of the demolition of one of New Zealand's prominent post-World War II buildings has sparked an online wave of viewers.

Julian Ramsay captured the moment Manchester St's SBS House fell, "chucked it on Facebook" and was surprised when it received over 2000 online hits.

As a structural engineer, Ramsay used to work on the third level of the building and said witnessing its demolition was "pretty sobering".

Capturing the footage on a small video camera, he felt the ground shudder beneath his feet as the building toppled into a cloud of dust and debris.

He saw desks, noticeboards and office belongings tumble from the building as the excavator brought it down.

Ramsay, who works for Ruamoko Solutions, said the  structural engineering company had shifted into the building only three weeks before February 22, after tripling its staff following the September quake.

Ruamoko Solutions attempted a preliminary scheme to strengthen the building after February's quake but Ramsay said it wasn't economical to repair.

SBS House, formerly the Manchester Unity building, was placed on the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority's urgent demolition list in July after it suffered damage in the February quake.

Christchurch architect Peter Beaven, who designed SBS House in the 1960s, said it was a "really special building to a great many people".

In 1969, it received an award from the New Zealand Institute of Architects and was again recognised by the institute with a 25 Year Award in 1999.

The judges described it as the country's "most significant post-war office building", Beaven said.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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