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Akaroa celebrates new health centre

Tom O'Leary Nov 11
Akaroa celebrates new health centre
The new Akaroa Health Centre comprises a medical practice, four flexi-inpatient beds and eight aged residential care beds.

Just over 18 months in construction, Akaroa’s $5 .2 million health centre is now ready to receive its first patients.

The new building replaces the much-loved 100-year-old Akaroa Hospital that was demolished in August 2015.

Called Akaroa Health – Te Hauora o Rakaihauta, the new health centre comprises a medical practice, four flexi inpatient beds and eight aged residential care beds.

Following a blessing ceremony in July, final fixtures and fittings were installed ready for the formal opening ceremony in early September.

It represents a huge community fundraising ef-fort, with the Akaroa Community Health Trust having committed to raise $2.5 million towards the costs of construction.

Watts and Hughes Construction were selected to build the single-storey health facility, with the first phase involving demolition of the temporary medical centre.

“The next five or six months were devoted to earthworks,” says Regan Cliff, the project’s site manager.

“We had to remove a lot of earth, over 2000 cubic metres, to create a big flat site out of the hill.

As well, we brought in local hard fil and packed it down to create the building platform and car park.

We started in March 2018 and the concrete slab went down in August.”

The Canterbury District Health Board used con-sulting engineers to ensure the site would be safe for construction.

Stabilising the hillside around the site involved installing over 120 metres of retaining walls, up to a height of 2.6 metres.Last winter brought challenges of its own.

“We had a terrible month when it rained con-stantly. It meant we had our work cut out managing mud and silt run-off onto roads as well as keeping the site safe to work.”

Throughout the project, Watts & Hughes Con-struction took care with scheduling to make best use of staff and trade contractors and minimise unnecessary trips to and from Christchurch.

Delivery of building materials were also carefully timed for the same reason.

At peak, around 30 people a day were working on site with well over 200 inducted to the site.

In essence, the timber-frame centre’s design is comparable to a large residential house, split into sections with steel work spanning larger areas and broken up by fire walls.

The medical centre takes up approximately half the building with the other half devoted to aged residential care, and down the middle is a dining room and kitchen area.

While the layout is fairly straight forward, the centre’s design is nevertheless quite detailed.

“For example, the exterior is wrapped in a bagged brick veneer with a banded fl ashing system above and Oblique Weatherboard on the main gables to create a nice contrast. A lot of different internal wall types were also used in the construction to meet acoustic and fire safety requirements.”

Akaroa Health was designed by Ignite Architects. “The plans were excellent, very detailed and comprehensive.”

Watts & Hughes Construction takes pride in its strong health and safety record. Its practices onsite for this project were no exception.

Health and safety audits took place every two weeks, involving both the company’s own health and safety manager plus an independent auditor.

Audit results were routinely above 95% and no lost time incidents occurred.

As well as rolling out the construction, Watts & Hughes completed the fit-out.

“We did everything from screwing hand sanitisers on the walls to helping move furniture around.”

Throughout the project, Watts & Hughes maintained close contact with Canterbury DHB through monthly meetings, weekly site photos and regular site visits.

Regan says that given how important this centre is for its community, it has been a special project for all involved.

“For me personally, it has been very satisfying,” he says.

“I know from speaking to local people that they have been waiting for this for a long time.

“We had a lot of help from the community, from offers of accommodation to having extra baguettes made up! “The fundraising effort by this small community has been simply amazing and we hope they’re proud of their facility.

“As a team, we’re also pleased to have established a successful working relationship with the Canterbury DHB which we hope to build on in future.

”Watts & Hughes have been involved in the Christchurch market since 2012, completing a varied portfolio of projects that have significantly contributed to the city’s rebuild and regeneration.

Its team has also been working closely with the Christchurch City Council in the completion of social housing refurbishments and new build social housing, including the Akaroa Bruce Terrace complex.

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