The Whakatane District Library and Museum and Gallery were formerly housed in separate buildings, neither of which were a good fit for community’s or the organisation’s needs. The Whakatane District Council addressed both issues by creating a new, purpose-built arts and cultural centre.
Aurecon provided structural and building services for the Whakatane Library & Exhibition Centre project, which has successfully breathed new life into the city centre, revitalising an area of big box retail and car parking which was largely devoid of cultural appeal.
The project had a ‘challenging’ construction budget of less than $3M to cover repairs and renovation of the former, cavernous Briscoes retail building, seismic upgrade works and fit-out of the museum exhibition spaces and library. Working collaboratively with the Council and ISJ Architects, the project objectives were met through a clear and selective sustainable design approach, which focused on delivering a facility tailored to appeal to the wider community.
The new spaces provided are designed to feel easy and inviting, and the massive increase in usage the facility has achieved confirms that that’s exactly what they have delivered.
The building structure was seismically reworked and braced to achieve in excess 100% of current code, while adapting the existing precast concrete perimeter walls, which were removed in key places and replaced with glazing and timber refurbishments.
The heating and cooling requirements have been minimised by high insulation standards and reduced solar load through external shading.
Changes in technology and building use were accommodated through flexible service capabilities. The ventilation and heating and air conditioning systems are configured into several zones for improved comfort control, catering for changes, partitions and differing uses for each area served.
The building features low energy lamp types throughout. Of note, the museum display areas utilise new LED display lamps that reduce energy consumption by up to 75%.
Success is represented in a doubling of patronage, compared to the visitor numbers for the former separate facilities, and an associated regeneration to the surrounding area, with all adjacent shops, some of which were vacant at the start of the project, now currently let.