News | 6 October 2021

Sneak peek inside the Central Library

It’s been over two years now since the Central Library closed suddenly due to structural vulnerabilities, so what’s happening in there now?

Two escalators and one central set of stairs inside the darkened, closed Central Library.

If you've noticed a bit of activity around the library recently that's because the Crown Relocations team are currently undergoing an eight-week process to remove all the historic fittings and furniture to store them until the library is strengthened and reopened.

A huge number of wooden chairs lined up closely together in neat rows in the children's section of the library.
Chairs designed by New Zealand furniture maker and sculptor Carin Wilson.

The building was designed by nationally renowned architect Sir Ian Athfield and much of the furniture was commissioned by his wife Lady Clare Athfield. The chairs above were designed by furniture maker and sculptor Carin Wilson. Our heritage expert will be on hand to make sure everything is carefully labelled, itemised and wrapped.  

Any other office furniture or equipment that is not going into storage will be recycled, upcycled or used elsewhere in the Council to keep waste to a minimum.

The old music section of the Central Library with no furniture or shelves and old CD cases still hanging on the walls.

The Central Library was closed in March 2019 after the Council received advice from engineers that the building had structural vulnerabilities.  

Staff of both the library and the café had only a few hours to say their farewells and leave so inside you can still see the remnants of its past inhabitants. Children's dress-ups, CD covers and old wooden library rolodexes sit patiently waiting to go their new home.

The second floor of the Central Library with no shelves or furniture and the large books banner still hanging from the ceiling.
The carpet in the Central Library was designed by Lady Clare Athfield.

The next steps for Te Matapihi over the coming four years will be strengthening and modernising the building. This includes installing base isolators; expanding levels three and four; designing spaces for our libraries, City Archive, Council Service Centre, and Capital E to bring back Wellington’s much-loved community living room to the CBD. 

Keep an eye on Our Wellington, our e-newsletters and social media channels for regular updates about how the project is progressing.