The four steel trusses which held up the old canvas roof on the Opera House Plaza have come down and are being stored while a new use for them is investigated – perhaps as frames for shade sails in parks.

The trusses, weighing about 10 tonnes between them, were removed last week. It is the next step on the way to making the Plaza an all-weather multi-purpose events space. The differing floor levels are being made even to provide more usable space, a permanent roof is being fitted, and double-glazing is being installed.

“We are very keen to find other uses for the steel trusses as part of the wider precinct development,” said Hastings District Council’s facilities and programmes group manager Alison Banks.

“Shade sail support is one option, but we will be looking at others as well.”

Mayor of Hastings Sandra Hazlehurst says the steel trusses, which were built by a local engineer, are an outstanding engineering structure. “This is a wonderful opportunity to reuse the innovative structures for other purposes in the future.”

The work on the Plaza is being done in conjunction with the earthquake-strengthening of the neighbouring Hawke’s Bay Opera House. The two projects are being carefully choreographed to limit impacts on the road-using public and to get best value for money, said Mrs Banks.

Once the floor is levelled a crane needed to lift steel into the Opera House to strengthen its roof will be sited inside the Plaza. It is expected to arrive on about March 12. The strengthening and refitting of a new roof onto the Opera House is expected to take about three months.

There will be a slight change in the profile of the Opera House roof towards the rear of the building but apart from that there will be no noticeable change, said Mrs Banks. “All work being carried out on the Opera House is being closely monitored and approved by Heritage New Zealand which has a representative on the project team.”

By April the detailed design of the new Plaza roof will be finished and then constructed on site, with the Plaza expected to re-open in December 2018. The Opera House is expected to reopen towards the end of 2019.