Municipal Electricity Department (MED) Building

The Municipal Electricity Department building was a landmark building situated on the corner of Manchester and Armagh Streets. It has now been demolished following damage from the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes.

The MED administration building was opened on 6 May 1939 by the then Minister of Public Works, The Honourable R. Semple. The total finished cost including furnishings and office equipment was £65,000.


The structural design, plans and specifications were prepared by Council staff with V. J. Hean as architect and R.A. Campbell (also responsible for the structural design of Millers building, later the Civic Offices) as Consulting Engineer. Of rigid steel frame construction, the floor slabs and walls were of reinforced concrete. The columns between the showroom windows were faced with black granite as were the steps and walls of the vestibule. The interiors of the show room and first floor and vestibules on other floors were panelled to a height of 7ft in Australian ribbon walnut with cappings and skirtings of Southland beech.

The external appearance of the building was designed on horizontal lines, the centre of each frontage being broken by a double pier surmounted by a flagstaff. The corner of the building was rounded in the Moderne style with the glass and sashes also being curved. This dominated the external appearance of the building. The building consisted of four levels.

Later developments

On 3 April 1987, a major extension on the Manchester Street frontage was opened by the former Mayor, Sir Hamish Hay. The building was later used by Southpower and Orion. In 2003 Ultralab South (later Core Education), an educational and technological research centre, moved into the ground floor. Following the 2010-2011 Canterbury earthquakes the building was demolished in 2012.

Online resources

Heritage New Zealand: Lost Heritage Christchurch City I-P
Heritage New Zealand includes entry for the MED Building, 218 Manchester Street.
Orion company history
History of Orion (formerly Southpower).
Orion Buildings to be demolished
Announcement by Orion Group of intention to demolish 218 Manchester Street.
Municipal Electricity Department Collection
A collection of photographs of Christchurch and surrounds taken in the course of the business of the Municipal Electricity Department including the building of the M.E.D. building in the 1930s.
Resources about the M.E.D. in the Libraries’ collection.
Electrical Utilities — Christchurch
Resources about Christchurch electrical utilities in the Libraries’ collection.
Stories from the Papers Index
Photographs of the MED building post quake
From Christchurch City Libraries Flickr collection. 


This was originally derived from the Christchurch City Council handbook of 1998.

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