Te Awamutu Heritage and Cultural Centre

This is a design for a 350 seat theatre and 2500m² museum and gallery in the heart of Te Awamutu. The building design develops out of the concept of the wooden carving protecting the stone which contains the spirit of Unenuku, the God of Rainbows. Just as the carving protects the stone the museum enfolds and protects the theatre. This concept develops as a clear and rational layout of public and private zones, with simple circulation flows in public and back-of-house areas. On both levels the public functions occupy the northern half of the plan, whilst the back-of-house functions occupy the south.

The large overhanging roof on the corner provides a generous welcoming gesture and area for outdoor ceremonial events such as powhiri. The full length of the northern area of the ground floor is devoted to public circulation for the museum and theatre, including reception, foyer, bar and café, stairs and lift, thus providing a high quality public realm and active edge to the streets and park, and also encouraging an accessible and inviting aspect to the complex.

The theatre itself has a large operable wall of glass panels which allow views from the seating out into the park, and also can be opened for special events which can incorporate indoor and outdoor activities.

A shell of pre-weathered steel partially forms the walls and roof of the upper level galleries and in parts extends to create solar screens and roof of the entry overhang. By wrapping over and around the building, the shell symbolically supports the idea of culture being nurtured by the museum and theatre complex, and it also gives the building an iconic, memorable and exciting sense of identity.