In 2020, The Connect Group were selected as the strengthening and repair specialist for 96 Lichfield Street – better known to Christchurch locals as part of SOL Square (South of Lichfield).

First designed and built for Woollen Manufacturing company in 1919 by W. H. Gummer, the 110-room Living Space accommodation building has been vacant since the 2011 Christchurch Earthquake. A category one heritage building and the first of its kind to be constructed of reinforced concrete, they tasked our team with completing structural strengthening and concrete repairs.

96 Lichfield Street is a category one heritage building and the challenge from the outset was to maintain its overall integrity of the historic façade and take care of the stone frontage, all while giving the building strength and durability. Steps such as securing the stone to the superstructure had to be undertaken to maintain the façade and stonework.


The main repairs undertaken by The Connect Group included concrete spalling repair to structural columns and beams throughout the building, followed by high-pressure epoxy injection repairs to shear load walls, columns, and floors. Supply, installation and construction of the new reinforced steel, concrete shear walls and basement transverse drag beams were also conducted. The proposed alternative bracing strengthening plan applied to the existing internal stairwell block walls which were to be demolished but were saved by the application of a GFRP Strengthening System. In the basement, our team undertook polyurethane water stop injection to seal the water ingress issues.


Carbon Fibre Wrapping (pictured left) was a key strengthening component for this project due to its high strength capacity, lightweight and low intrusive nature. Carbon Fibre was applied to internal walls, structural columns, and floor diaphragms. This was a big part of this project, with approximately 4600 lm laid by our team of trained construction professionals over the contract period.

Working with the structural engineer’s plans, Carbon Fibre was applied to key walls and columns throughout the building in multiple ways from the basement up to the fourth level, to create a bracing element to key walls and columns for future-proofing and insuring the safety of its occupations for years to come. Some areas posed difficulty for installation and this is where our team’s skill and industrial experience came into play - collaborating with the project engineers to come up with alternative FRG approaches, to deliver the same load design outcomes with less impact to the building fabric.

This was one of The Connect Group’s largest strengthening projects completed in 2020.