The external refurbishment of Aotea Centre presented the opportunity for the building to perform in a visually contemporary way and set an example of best-in-class remediation and weathertightness design.
Working alongside Auckland Unlimited as the client, Ignite undertook a process of transferring design responsibility from the previous architect to our specialised remediation team.
The project involved two main design responses that examine the concept of movement: the reclad of the roof and auditorium fly tower, and the introduction of a new canopy fascia above the remodelled upper-level balcony. Both introduce a light, environmentally responsive envelope that celebrates and connects the cultural function of the centre to the community.
The extensive remediation required amended resource consent and building consent documentation, to which Ignite developed a stringent compliance pathway.
Ignite worked rigorously with the project team to satisfy consenting requirements - a highly complex process due to Aotea Centre being a public, high-profile building and the complications associated with transferring work from the previous architect. Stringent value management reviews were conducted throughout the process, to ensure the project was within budget and using public money prudently. By re-designing certain architectural elements, the team were able to save costs, and still deliver an aesthetically striking design.
The new fascia ‘ribbon’ is the star performer. Representing the movement of performance, it reinforces Aotea Centre as the spiritual home for the performing arts in Auckland.
Chronophotography, the study of motion through still image, was used to analyse the movement of a diverse selection of cultural and theatrical performers and interpret this motion into a sequence of architectural elements. The notion of ‘ribbon’ was deconstructed to ‘good ribs’ (rib/bon); the ribs being translated to aluminium louvres/batons to create an undulating pattern that represents this frame of motion. The louvres/batons are both lightweight and dynamic, appearing to change in shape and form depending on the time of day or the perspective from which you view the building.
Feature lighting on the ribbon emphasises the fascia’s distinctive shape and adds another level of interest and visual activation to Aotea Square at night.
To mitigate disruption to Aotea Centre during construction, the ribbon was prefabricated off-site in 3-metre-wide modules, then transported to site and installed from the roof, minimising the need for ground access.
Situated below the ribbon is the upper-level balcony, which features a new gallery space. The balcony strengthens the centre’s relationship to the surrounding urban environment, connecting those on the balcony to those moving through Aotea Square below.
Designed by the previous architect, the Rimex stainless steel cladding panels of the main auditorium roof and fly tower were selected for their shimmering quality and ability to visually respond to Auckland’s ever-changing weather conditions. This dynamic movement is augmented by diagonal patterning, which gives life to the otherwise solid backdrop.
Ignite carefully navigated the complex budgetary constraints, compliance pathways, and seismic requirements to deliver an external refurbishment that not only satisfies the needs of the client and council but revitalises a key public asset for the city. The façade solution sees the building’s form expressed at its fullest potential, celebrating the essence of performance that Aotea Centre enables for Auckland.
With the CRL due for completion in the near-future, Aotea Centre’s new visual presence will be the welcoming beacon of the precinct.