OUR PROJECTS / The Chinese Embassy /

The Chinese Embassy

Housing the Chinese diplomatic representatives to New Zealand, this building in the Thorndon area of Wellington required the installation of a significant amount of steelwork in order to better withstand earthquakes. Petone Engineering was given the job of manufacturing and installing the steel


  • Steel weight – 75 tonnes
  • Strengthening of an 11 storey embassy building
  • 40 K-frames installed to increase seismic stability
  • All on-site staff screened through a stringent security clearance process

The Challenge

From the beginning of the project, it was clear that timeframes were tight. As scaffold was taking longer than expected to erect, we decided to use a crane with a man cage attached so that one of our supervisors could accurately measure the exterior of the building. This immediately allowed us to move ahead with the project.

As with many buildings of this era, the building was not straight or square, meaning each frame had to be custom made to fit around the inconsistencies in the structure. Adjustments were made regularly to allow the frames to sit as level as possible and counter the buildings irregular geometry.

With the building being out of square, we requested design changes allowing clearances to compensate, and were given approval to add over 1500 slots to the fixing brackets . Being able to add these slots while fabricating the frames in the workshop greatly reduced the amount of work required on site. This time-saving method was made possible by our recent purchase of an Ocean Avenger Plus CNC Beam Line which can quickly and accurately mill slots.

Bringing innovation to site

The main contractor had planned to use a tower crane to complete the project. Unfortunately, the ground where the crane was supposed to sit was not adequate and expensive ground works would have been required to remedy this.

Realising the potential for time delays, the Petone Engineering team came up with a solution to use a City crane and lift the frames in from the road. This worked well and avoided several months’ worth of delays as well as the cost increases that invariably go with late-running projects.

As can be common with construction from the 1980’s, steel work in the basement area was not as per the original drawings. We worked in with the engineers coming up with new designs to tie the existing steel into the new structure. To avoid delays here we propped the lower K frames and continued to install the frames above while the work was completed on the steel in the basement.

Overall a challenging job and one that Petone Engineering team is proud off.

Client: JNS Construction
Location: 2-6 Glenmore Street, Wellington
Consultant: Focus Engineering Consultants Ltd


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Petone Engineering is a leading provider of structural steel and seismic strengthening, having delivered an impressive portfolio of projects across the lower North Island and beyond.