Wellington Scoop

How safe is the City to Sea Bridge?

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Now that Capital E has found a new venue, after having to leave its earthquake-prone theatre in Civic Square, there’s a question not only about the space that it has vacated, but also about the space above it.

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The council has given Capital E a yellow-stickered warning, similar to the ones that you see all over town. And Capital E has responded by moving its shows to Downstage. But if Capital E is yellow-stickered, then what’s the condition of the space above it?

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These stairs from Civic Square rise above the earthquake-prone Capital E space, heading towards the City to Sea bridge en route to Te Papa.

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At the top of the stairs, the paving is on the roof of the yellow-stickered Capital E. There’s no sign, however, of any yellow sticker in this area.

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This second set of stairs also leads to the paved area above the earthquake-prone Capital E.

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At the other end of Civic Square, the council has announced a drastic decision about another earthquake-prone structure. The Athfield-designed portico – hanging in space between the council offices and the library – is to be demolished.

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A different decision has been taken for the 110-year-old Town Hall. Yellow stickers have been placed at the entrances, and it’s to be closed in July. But not for demolition. It’s to be strengthened and then reopened. The work will take two years, or longer.


The council’s anxiety is shown by this sign inside the Town Hall, which can seat 1600 people. But thousands of people walk across the nearby City to Sea Bridge every day. So where’s a decision about the space above Capital E?


  1. Richard MacLean, 23. January 2013, 9:31

    The Council is satisfied that the City to Sea Bridge is safe for public use. The yellow notice on the door of Capital E obviously indicates that we consider the building to be quake-prone but it does not mean that either the building or the bridge can’t be used. There are now scores of buildings around town that have yellow notices but they are still in use.

  2. Cr Helene Ritchie, 23. January 2013, 10:56

    I am most concerned about the demolition of the Portico approved by the Executive Leadership Team. This work should not proceed further without Mayor and Council discussion and decision.
    The Portico provides an important “grand” “archway”entrance to Civic Square, Civic Centre, City Gallery,Town Hall City to Sea Bridge and Waterfront. It is the entrance for many processions and marches, provides a welcome to our civic public spaces. It is as much a sculpture and feature as is Neil Dawson’s fern ball beyond it. It is linked in architecture to the buildings on either side of it.
    Councillors need far more information on this and options. As the Councillor /deputy mayor who led the Civic Centre project in the late eighties, I am opposed to this piece of civic vandalism and would have to see compelling information on alternatives before I ever agreed to it.
    I also want the public to have a say on the proposed demolition of this important (and heritage) part of our civic architecture.

  3. Michael G., 26. January 2013, 12:35

    Helene, I am still looking forward to your ringing me back as you promised me a week or two ago!

  4. Trish, 26. January 2013, 15:16

    If it would cost more of the ratepayers’ money to strengthen the link building, I would be happy to spend a lesser sum on replacing it with a sculptured arch. If it were lower, and more defined, it could make an even more dramatic contribution to the entrance than what’s there now.

  5. Maximus, 29. January 2013, 16:43

    Councilor Ritchie, I’m not sure that your crusade against impending demolition is warranted. As an element of fine architectural quality, the portico is somewhat lacking in several attributes, none-the-least-of which is whether people actually care. There is a healthy discussion on this going on over at Eye of the Fish at present….

  6. Councillor Helene Ritchie, 31. January 2013, 19:47

    Great comments on the Eye of the Fish.
    I would like to add to these when I clamber out of the mountains and bush and have reliable internet..but the site is now closed??

    Helene Ritchie

  7. Maximus, 2. February 2013, 9:32

    No, not closed Helene, generally the posts on the Fish are open for a month… enough time for you to climb back down and stay involved. There will be plenty of buildings to fight for – I’m just not at all convinced that this is one of them…

  8. Curtis Nixon, 6. February 2013, 21:01

    Personally I can’t stand the portico – it looks like an ugly after-thought slung between the library and council offices. I would prefer open sky myself.