About the Town Hall strengthening project

View from Civic Square of Wellington Town Hall, as it looks in 2013.

Wellington Town Hall from Civic Square


Work underway

We are currently reconsidering the strengthening options for the Town Hall, as the technology has developed and contractor skills have changed since the earlier plans. There are various ways of approaching the issue; we’re taking the time to properly consider them all.  

Once strengthened, it is proposed the Town Hall would house a National Music Hub in a revitalised Civic Precinct. Council is engaged with Victoria University and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra about how the world-class acoustics of the Town Hall can be put to best use.

Why we are doing this work


Wellington Town Hall is one of the city’s  important heritage buildings. Opened in 1904, it's a listed heritage building in the District Plan and has a Heritage New Zealand Category One rating, which means it has high cultural and heritage value for the city. 


The Town Hall's main auditorium’s acoustics are known as among the best in the world, especially for symphonic and choral works.


The Town Hall is classed as an earthquake-prone building, being less than 33 percent of the current building code. 

The two main factors that make the building earthquake-prone are:

  • it was built in the 1880s on reclaimed land – mainly uncompacted fill from the cliff face in Lambton Quay, hauled to the site by horse and cart. In a significant earthquake, it would be prone to liquefaction
  • its foundations are over 100 years old. Constructed from unreinforced masonry (brick) walls with a stone plinth around the base, the building sits on its original unreinforced concrete piles.

The strengthening project will rectify these two things.

Plan of work

We are reviewing the options for strengthening, including the liquefaction potential and the best piling and structural solution. We intend to complete the review, report back to Council and if it all goes to plan, start construction in 2017.

We expect  the final seismic solution will require: 

  • temporarily demolish the link between the Townhall and the Municipal Office Building
  • excavate under the Townhall where necessary to get access
  • install new foundations or raft slab
  • upgrade any areas to improve the access and use of the building
  • upgrade the heating, ventilation and electrical systems
  • restore any areas that require work
  • reinstall the organ after its restoration - for more information refer: Town Hall Organ

Using scanning technology to determine accuracy and options

View the animation of the Town Hall created by Holmes Consulting:
Wellington Town Hall - Preserving History with New Technologies - Holmes Consulting Group

This demonstrates one of the best tools to get accurate building measurements. Once the building is scanned, the data is imported into 3D drafting software to determine strengthening options. The architects can then use the actual dimensions in their drawings to create 3D models.

Time frame 

The project will take up to 3 years to complete once construction starts.

Alternative venues for use

If you would like to enquire about alternate venues, contact the Wellington City Council Contact Centre on 04 499 4444.

More information

Bede Crestani
Project Manager, City Shaper

04 495 7823 or 021 270 8154