Expressions Whirinaki Extension

Expressions Whirinaki Extension

May 2021

Expressions Whirinaki Theatre & Entertainment Centre (now known as Whirinaki Whare Taonga) is a much-loved part of the Upper Hutt community, hosting works by local and international artists and a vibrant programme of comedy, theatre, and dance.

Upper Hutt City Council engaged with Maycroft to extend the existing theatre, entertainment centre (built 2003) and Recreation Centre Hall (built 1969) providing Expressions with the ability to host world-class shows. The works have also provided larger kitchen spaces for hospitality services during shows and more teaching more

The extension is made up of three connected buildings:

A central two-storey building clad in cedar wood which houses gallery spaces, collection stores and a meeting room.

An extension to the existing dockway, clad in fibre cement, houses a small workshop and mezzanine storage.

A single storey building clad in profiled metal houses a creative workshop (teaching space), bathrooms, commercial kitchen, bar, storage, and a large lobby space to connect the galleries and existing Recreation Centre Hall.

The new structures are slab on grade, timber construction with steel braced frames. The rooves are made from steel primary structure and steel purlins. Three new openings with specially designed seismic gaps connect the new buildings to the existing ones. Our work also included upgrading all fire safety systems throughout the complex (in both existing and new buildings).

The buildings have several unique features reflecting their use as an art gallery and community theatre. The galleries are climate-controlled, and the fire sprinkler system is specially controlled to prevent accidental deluge and associated damage to artwork.

The construction of this project was unique as there was no nominated Project Manager, so during construction Maycroft liaises directly with Upper Hutt City Council in decision-making. This created an opportunity for Maycroft to have significant influence on the design development for this ECI contract, for example modifying electrical services routes to reduce cable lengths and improve the serviceability of the new facility.

The existing Expressions Whirinaki complex remained largely operational during construction, with only small areas closed off to allow specific works to be undertaken. Managing works safely and with minimal disruption required extensive planning and ongoing liaison with Expressions’ operations staff. Maycroft was able to accelerate works to minimise disruption, through integrating new seismic works into existing project workflows and allowing the handover of the café and public spaces to be four weeks earlier than scheduled.