Aurecon works with Ōtākaro to deliver the iconic and internationally recognised Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre.


Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre, New Zealand

Creating a drawcard to bring visitors back to Ōtautahi

Before the devastating 2011 earthquakes, Ōtautahi Christchurch attracted 23 per cent of New Zealand’s multi-day conferences, contributing some $90 million a year to the Canterbury economy. But the existing Convention Centre suffered irreparable damage in the February 2011 earthquake, leaving the city without a venue for large conferences and exhibitions.

While there were a handful of small venues that could house events, a purpose-built space was needed to draw visitors back to Ōtautahi and help boost the city’s tourism and economic potential. Te Pae (‘a gathering place’ in te reo Māori) Christchurch Convention Centre is a new generation, international standard venue that showcases the very best of New Zealand.

Officially opened in December 2021, the world-class venue comprises an array of modern, flexible spaces: 24 meeting rooms, 1,400 seat auditorium, 200 booth exhibition hall, dedicated dining rooms, VIP spaces and organiser offices.

Working alongside crown-owned Ōtākaro, who have led the anchor projects in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, Aurecon helped to deliver this iconic and internationally recognised civic building for Christchurch.

Supporting the development of a world-class convention and exhibition centre

Aurecon was appointed as the lead Client-Side Advisor, responsible for a range of services including project brief development, procurement, design management, project management and statutory peer review services.

Prior to our involvement the project had been developed as a Design-Build-Operate scheme, similar to a Public Private Partnership, however this had been found to be unfeasible, so Aurecon worked with Ōtākaro to redevelop it into a Design and Build contract to enable it to go to market and be delivered.

A key aspect of our role was engaging with stakeholders to deeply understand their needs and requirements and use this knowledge to develop a robust project brief, benchmarking this against comparable overseas facilities. Our team then developed the design through to Developed Design, tendered and awarded the works to the main contractor and novated the design team across.

Creating an architectural and social landmark for the people of Christchurch

Ōtākaro wanted to develop a legacy building for Christchurch that the community would be proud of. The building design reflects the city’s strong ties to the mountains and rivers, with shapes and lines that represent the contours of the Southern Alps and Canterbury’s iconic braided rivers.

A stunning white Ngutu, or ceremonial entranceway, recognises the mana of local hapu, Ngāi Tūāhuriri, with a design inspired by the distinctive southern maihi, or diagonal bargeboards, on whare (traditional meeting houses) on the bank of the Horotueka (Cam River).

Ensuring the client’s aspirations and architect’s vision for the project were realised was a key part of our role as Project Manager. Our team invested significant effort in developing a stringent set of project requirements that defined the look, feel, form and function of the new Convention Centre and facilitated design reviews in collaboration with the client to ensure these were delivered upon.

This close attention to detail throughout both design and construction phases resulted in a completed building that is strikingly close to the architect’s renders.

Collaboration and complexity

Delivering a Design and Build contract of this complexity and scale using the resources of the local Canterbury market is unusual, and the deep experience and knowledge held with our Ōtautahi team from previous projects, such as Canterbury University’s Regional Science and Innovation Centre, and University of Otago/Te Whare Wānanga o Otāgo Faculty of Dentistry, was a key factor in its successful delivery.

In managing the project, our team was able to draw on the technical expertise held within Aurecon’s design teams to test assumptions and ensure we were delivering the right solutions.

Projects of this scale are always a collaborative effort and achieving the impressive structure that exists today would not have been possible without the architect Woods Bagot, contractor CPB Contractors and other design consultants.

A gathering place where everyone is welcomed with manaakitanga

Te Pae heralds a new beginning for Christchurch – restoring a much-needed event and conference venue to the city, and an associated boost in economic and tourism activity. Set in the heart of a vibrant and modern city, Te Pae is both a gathering place for Cantabrians and a gateway to Te Waipounamu – The South Island – where everyone is welcomed with manaakitanga (kindness and generosity).

Te Pae is a key part of the regeneration of the city, and the investment into the building can be viewed as a catalyst for the growth and development of the city. The centre encompasses cultural, social, and economic connections around New Zealand and globally. Aurecon provided Ōtākaro with guidance in creating a world class venue that provides a genuine and tailored experience, in turn attracting a diverse range of national and international events.

Despite challenges relating to COVID restrictions and supply chain disruptions Aurecon, Ōtākaro, CPB and other subcontractors have delivered a highly functional and diversified experience. Users of the building have access to culinary services, event planning and coordination services, live entertainment, and venue capacity, all with a strong focus on community connection and sustainability.

Te Pae has also committed to sourcing at least 60 per cent of food and beverage from within the Canterbury region, providing a beneficial boost to the local economy.

Sustainability in design and operations

Te Pae has a strong sustainability focus within its design and operations, including being built to a New Zealand Green Building Council Green Star 5-star rating. The intelligent and configurable systems provide capabilities to adjust temperature and integrate renewable energy sources for up to 85 per cent of energy used by the building.

The building management system captures all specialised building services metering and controls in a single platform, and connects directly with security, audio visual, vertical transport, and event management systems. Waste management includes tracking and weighing output, and the building incorporates a circular economy strategy to reduce wastage.

Image courtesy of Dennis Radermacher, Lightforge.

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