Expressions Whirinaki Extension

Expressions Whirinaki Extension

Expressions Whirinaki Theatre & Entertainment Centre 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 Maycroft to extend the existing theatre and entertainment centre (built 2003) and Recreation Centre Hall (built 1969) to allow Expressions to host world-class shows. The works will also provide 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 will house new gallery spaces, collection stores and a meeting room
  • An extension to the existing dockway, clad in fibre cement will house a small workshop and mezzanine storage
  • A single-storey building clad in profiled metal will house a creative workshop (teaching space), bathrooms, commercial kitchen, bar, cleaners store and a large lobby space to connect with 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 includes upgrading all fire safety systems throughout the complex (in both existing and new buildings).

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

This project is unique in that there is no nominated Project Manager, so Maycroft liaises directly with Upper Hutt City Council in decision-making. This has created the 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 remains largely operational during construction, with only small areas closed off to allow specific works to be undertaken. Managing works safely and with minimal disruption requires extensive planning and ongoing liaison with Expressions’ operations staff. We have been able to accelerate works to minimise disruption, for example integrating new seismic works into existing project workflows and handing over the café and public spaces four weeks earlier than scheduled.