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Petitioning King's School

Save the Historic King's School Hanna Block

King's School has determined to demolish the Hanna Block. 

If you wish to save this iconic heritage building sign this petition.

Background

The 1936 Hanna Block together with its clock tower are iconic pieces of Auckland heritage architecture designed by renowned architect D. B. Patterson.

The Hanna Block is the heart of the school and can be seen as a significant heritage structure from Tamaki Drive and Portland Road. The Hanna Block currently complies with earthquake requirements and therefore there is no sudden need for its demolition.

There are very few examples of historic campuses in New Zealand and internationally where significant heritage icons have been intentionally demolished, the reverse is predominately true. Certainly Auckland Grammar, Auckland Girls’ Grammar, Diocesan School, King’s College, Otahuhu College, Takapuna Grammar and St Cuthbert’s College to name a few examples within Auckland together with the University of Auckland, Massey University, Victoria University, Lincoln University and the University of Otago to name a few examples throughout New Zealand have all proudly retained and revitalised their iconic heritage centrepiece buildings. 

Fresh modern development is usually created around existing heritage or within existing heritage and this could easily be employed at King’s School with the internal revitalisation of the Hanna Block, the potential to fully redevelop the now dated 1970s Kerridge Block and the possible development of the sloping grass terraces that lead down from the Hanna Block to the fields. 

School’s reasoning for demolition

The Auckland Council granted King’s School a consent for demolition in late 2014.

The rationale that has been given for demolition is that the unwashed sand in the mortar may eventually affect the steel reinforcing in the beams. However, this is true of virtually all heritage buildings constructed pre 1940. The issue can be addressed and is addressed in all heritage restorations that are undertaken. Many heritage buildings built in 1900 are now starting to show signs that the salts in the mortar are affecting their steel reinforcing resulting in the steel rusting, expanding and externally creating cracks in the mortar.  

However, this has only occurred due a century of rain washing the lime content out of the mortar and virtually always on external beams exposed to rain.  The lime, being alkaline, offsets the acids in the unwashed sand preventing the rusting of the steel.  Once the lime eventually washes away, the steel will rust, however, in that situation the mortar can be removed, the rust treated, addition steel added if desired and then sealed with fresh concrete that has a high alkaline content and no acids.  It should be noted that since the mid 1980s all the externally exposed beams on the Hanna Block have been painted to seal out the rain for this very reason. Furthermore, it would appear the only signs of mortar decay that have occurred, have occurred on the highly exposed top of the clock tower.

To date the school has removed the top three meters of the clock tower which was deemed as an immediate risk, however, there appears to be no evidence that any other part of the building is currently at risk.

In light of this, the claim that the building will last for several more years is simply inaccurate.

Reasons to preserve the historic Hanna Block

1) The Hanna Block meets earthquake requirements.

2) The Hanna Block can be restored.

3) Today’s heritage buildings can be revitalised to create inspiring spaces which are energy efficient for modern flexible learning.

4) The international precedent that has been created by renowned worldwide campuses exemplifies the accepted norm that iconic centrepieces should be preserved.

5) It is universally accepted that history and its physical presence are fundamental elements of society and should be preserved.

6) This is an opportunity to protect a part of New Zealand’s history, so much of which has been lost in Christchurch and throughout the country.

There has been no consultation of this proposal with the King's community nor the wider public. The proposal to replace the historic Hanna Block with the soulless, uninspiring monolith pictured on the King's School website has been presented as a fait accompli. 

Moreover it is concerning to note that the demolition consent application states that the Hanna Block is:

"of moderate local contextual significance";

"it is not considered that any persons will be adversely affected by the proposal in terms of adverse effects on historic heritage"; and

"it is considered that there will be less than minor adverse effects to the historic heritage on site as a result of the removal of the existing Hanna Building."

The School's proposal quotes Sir Winston Churchill as saying,

"We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us."

The full quotation actually reads;

"On the night of May 10, 1941, with one of the last bombs of the last serious raid, our House of Commons was destroyed by the violence of the enemy, and we have now to consider whether we should build it up again, and how, and when… We shape our buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us. Having dwelt and served for more than forty years in the late Chamber, and having derived very great pleasure and advantage therefrom, I, naturally, should like to see it restored in all essentials to its old form, convenience and dignity."

With the huge loss of heritage within Christchurch it seems difficult to believe that a heritage building of this calibre and significance that complies with the current earthquake requirements is now at immediate risk of demolition. 

Also join the campaign on facebook www.facebook.com/SaveKingsSchoolHannaBlock

All positive or constructive feedback is welcome in the comments section. Please avoid inappropriate or unrelated feedback. The views expressed on the page do not necessarily reflect the views of the administrator. 

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