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Christchurch Town Hall redevelopment to include new orchestral space

Christchurch Town Hall redevelopment to include new orchestral space
June 27, 2018

The architectural firm that designed the Town Hall has released drawings of the new addition that will provide a home for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO).

The new Warren and Mahoney designed addition replaces the Cambridge Room, which was demolished as part of the repair and strengthening of the Town Hall.

The new three-storey building will connect into all levels of the Town Hall and provide views across the Avon River to Victoria Square. As well as rehearsal and office space for the CSO, it includes offices for Vbase, the venue management company that operates the Town Hall, and public toilets.

Warren and Mahoney principal Peter Marshall explained “as part of the strengthening and repair of the Christchurch Town Hall we have located the CSO administration, operations and rehearsal facilities within the complex.

“This is one of the most significant aspects of the project and takes the Town Hall into a new realm where performers are based within the performance venue, bringing further life and vitality to the building.’’

CSO Chief Executive Gretchen La Roche says the orchestra is really looking forward to being in the heart of the city, advising “it’s exciting for us to be the first arts organisation resident in the Town Hall of the Performing Arts and we’re eager to play our part towards ensuring that the Town Hall is a vibrant, alive and welcoming space for the people of Christchurch.

“The stability that our new home will provide the CSO will also enable us to significantly expand our Community Engagement Programme. This is a priority for the orchestra as we’re currently unable to meet the demand and are keen to share musical experiences with as many people as possible.”

Work on the restoration of the Town Hall began in June 2015. Set to open to the public in March next year, nine months after the originally planned completion date, budget for the project has risen to $152.2 million from its initially planned $127.5 million.

The Council explains that the new budget takes into account inflationary costs and the additional expenses associated with bringing the building up to a modern standard and building the new CSO facility, which is a significant change in scope.

It also includes a significant contingency, although the amount has not been released by the Council for commercial reasons.

Mary Richardson, the Council’s General Manager Citizens and Community, says the cost of repairing and restoring the Town Hall compares favourably with the cost of building a brand new facility.

Richardson advises “if we had gone with the option outlined in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan of building a new 1,500 seat auditorium and 600 seat theatre on a new site we would have needed to spend in excess of $193.5 million.

“For significantly less, we have been able to restore a treasured heritage building and upgrade it to a modern standard so that it can be used for decades to come as premier performance venue.

The main Town Hall restoration project is expected to be completed at the end of this year with the CSO addition expected to be completed in early 2019.

Councillor Tim Scandrett, Chair of Vbase, which owns and manages the Town Hall on behalf of the Council, adds “we’re taking bookings and can’t wait to reopen the doors to the public again.”

Images: An artist's impression of the Town Hall with the new addition for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (top) and restoration of the Town Hall Auditorium is nearing completion (below). 

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