The real steel… Local steel company reveals shaky history

Local structural steel contractor Red Steel has a story of resilience to tell that stretches back 90 years to the Napier earthquake of 1931.

Red Steel’s head office and manufacturing facility, which was completed in 2014, features reused 90-year-old structural steel that originally formed part of the Napier rebuild. In 1931 the steel was on a ship from England and destined for use on the Sydney Harbour Bridge but was diverted to the Hawke’s Bay to help with the region’s rebuild.

The steel was first used in the construction of woolstores located on Napier’s foreshore, now known as Ahuriri. When the woolstores were converted to apartments, the steel was decommissioned, giving Red Steel the opportunity to claim the material and repurpose it for its new facility.

“Rather than sending the material to the scrap yard to be melted down, our team derigged the rolled steel joists beam by beam. The beams were in excellent condition and perfectly suited for reuse in the construction of our planned new Pandora-based headquarters,” says Red Steel managing director Bob Hawley.

In all, the new facility has 90 tonnes of structural steel, of which the repurposed steel makes up 12%.

“None of the original steel was wasted – offcuts of the material were used to create furniture for our reception area and office space,” says Hawley.

Steel boasts strong sustainability credentials, key of which is its recyclability, he says.

“Steel can be recycled and reused endlessly without compromising its remarkable physical properties. The material can also be dismantled and removed from one building and repurposed and installed in another without altering its performance,” says Hawley.

Worldwide, it is estimated that 90% of steel from demolition sites is returned to steel mills for recycling.

Red Steel is a finalist in the Excellence in Steel Awards for its work on the soon-to-open Hawke’s Bay Airport expansion. The Airport’s terminal expansion will enhance this key infrastructure asset for the region and increase the terminal’s size from 2,500sqm to 4,340sqm with the use of structural steel.

“We’re delighted to have been part of this fantastic project,” says Hawley. “Receiving industry recognition for the quality of the steelwork involved is testament to our team’s commitment to best practice, value, teamwork, efficiency and innovation.”

Instead of hiding the elements of strength, the structural steel used to complete this project is exposed, making the building’s resilience a celebrated and visible feature of the design.