Municipal Concepts

Light and space, with a focus on the performing arts in their broadest form, are at the heart of a concept proposal for the redesign of the Municipal Buildings.

In 2016, when Council held a full consultation process to help find the best way forward for the Opera House, Plaza and Municipal Buildings, the public agreed that a new use or uses needed to be found for the Municipal Buildings before earthquake strengthening and redeveloping should be undertaken.

Since then, in-depth discussions with the arts community, iwi and others who had been closely involved with the facility over the decades have informed a concept proposal by Matthews & Matthews Architects Ltd – together with Dena Aroha Bach, the key points of which we would now like to share with you.

Welcoming and Alive
The Matthews & Matthews Ltd concept is based on a Story of Light; to allow a re-opening of the place, to bring back into the Hastings Municipal Buildings the light and energy of the community; as a place of creativity and innovation, which serves the community.

Combining an understanding of the history of the building and its significance, guided by the conservation plan, the concept aims to retain and reveal the original component parts in the way the building is used as a contemporary performing arts hub.
Laneways connecting spaces
The proposal includes a plan for a laneway between the Opera House Theatre and Municipal Building – until today little more than an access alley – to take advantage of the distinctive architectural and urban qualities of the space.
Arrival – The Drama of the Entrance and Stair
Based on a careful understanding of the original design, the concept aims to recover the clarity of the building’s spatial arrangement and the use of light wells and lanes that historically provided light to the interior.
While the Borough Council Chambers and Assembly Hall will be retained with limited change, it is proposed the generosity of the main entry be recovered through the reinstatement of the double-height void over the main stair and a repositioning of the lift.

The recovery of these aspects of the original design can enhance ways in which the building can be used in contemporary ways.
Looking back provides opportunities to move forward – to remove some of the additions and alterations made over time, where light wells have been in-filled, double height spaces lost and the clarity of circulation obscured.
Work Shop, Performance, Studio and Exhibition Spaces
Matthews & Matthews Ltd have engaged with the community and responded to ideas about what people would like to see in a community performing arts hub. Double height spaces provide places of welcome, dramatic and generous places for art, performance and collaboration.
The aim is to activate the ground floor retail spaces, whilst creating openings between shop walls along Heretaunga Street to allow flexible use for performing arts, workshops, installations, studios and service areas.
Cultural Spaces and Quiet Places ‘Carved from Light’
By highlighting local stories from Kahungunu and Aotearoa in the way the building is used and activated it is hoped to re-engage the collective memories that already exist through this place, and for these memories and knowledge to be handed onto the youth and coming generations.

Hastings District Council is seeking public input into the draft concept designs for the Municipal Building with all feedback to be considered before a final decision is made. These decisions will then inform detailed designs.

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What you’ve said so far

15/08/18 – Delighted to see this beautiful and grand old lady restored to her former glory. My husband’s great grandfather designed this building so we have a special interest in watching the redevelopment. A community arts hub? Couldn’t think of a more fitting use. Well done Hastings City Council!

15/08/18 – It looks Amazing, we do need a cafe/restaurant area for before and after visits to the theatre. Light open spaces are good, well done.

16/08/18 – For performing arts and some concerts. E.g. Fly My Pretties as the home-grown tour sounded excellent in this fantastic place.

17/08/18 – Hastings has real jewels in the Opera House and Municipal Building – the above concepts are going to ensure they again shine and reignites them as a focal point for the city. I applaud the Hastings District Council for taking the time to ensure that while we capture the past we also bring the buildings into the future by returning them to their full splendour and then some. Looking forward to these concepts coming to life!

17/08/18 – Love these plans and that it is to be a cultural precinct. I’m delighted that the iwi are involved. I can see that a showcase for our indigenous heritage as well as modern performing arts could be a great tourist attraction that would really appeal to locals and visitors alike. Just hope there’s parking for the cruise ship buses.

18/08/18 – Yes! This is great. It is going to be a valuable asset. Can’t wait to see what pops up in all these wonderful spaces.

18/08/18 – It would be lovely to liven up Hastings during Art Deco week with the use of the Opera House Facilities. Hastings people are getting more involved with Art Deco so a ball, party or similar would be wonderful.

19/08/18 – Where is the Heritage of Art Deco or Spanish Mission in this? Remember Rebel Sports had to make a special alteration to their building in keeping with the Municipal Chambers across the Road. This new proposed plan doesn’t look like it is taking this into account we have to remember what this area is known for when altering old buildings. We don’t want another shambles like what has happened with the Hawke’s Bay Hospital newest addition WHAT A DISGUSTING EXAMPLE OF BLENDING WITH EXISTING BUILDINGS. Hastings District Council and Building Consents don’t disappoint again. Keep Municipal Building alteration to the era it was built.

19/08/18 – What a load of rubbish. Where is the art deco.

20/08/18 – At last we are looking to the future of our Heritage for next generation. We are custodians. Congratulations great ideas.

20/08/18 – This plan sounds amazing- bringing the opera house into the 21st century! Please include the alleyway so that the building can be viewed from all angles as well as the workshops. This then becomes a building for the whole community.

21/08/18 – It would be interesting to see it as a creating arts space as well as performing. Very careful thought is needed on who you wish to attract to the retail space to complement the arts feel.

23/08/18 – It looks fabulous and the clean lines allow the building to be seen. Less is often better. Open space and making the spaces available for a variety of events will be an asset to the Hastings community. I also think that the development of the surrounding area of restaurants and specialty shops or other cultural services will also enhance Hastings.

25/08/18 – Links to our rural communities too through use of locally made textiles, how about some Hawkes bay wool used in carpets etc.

30/08/18 – Really like the proposed use for an arts precinct. Care will be needed with any “laneways” to ensure they don’t become dingy dives. Love the idea of returning some of the spaces back to original layout to open up the building. Stop mucking around – just get on with it!!

11/09/18 – I would love to see the bottom converted into some sort of eatery and a museum. We are not very good at telling our story in Hastings. An interactive and informative modern museum showing our ancestry, earthquake and right up till now. We have nothing to keep our tourists in the city other than art and if art isn’t their thing . . . well we have nothing. And it’s great for locals to explore their heritage. Let’s not waste the space. Use it wisely.

5/10/18 – Hastings has nowhere that illustrates both it’s Maori and European history adequately. Most locations around New Zealand have some kind of social history museum. It would be great to incorporate this in the redevelopment of the Municipal space. Interactive displays that tell a story.                                                                                                                                                 

26/10/18 – I will be honest and say that my thoughts were that I didn’t want to inject any more council funds into this building. I didn’t think it was worth it. I’m so glad I never spoke up on those thoughts! Because I’m completely wrong! My interaction with the arts in particular on the stage is limited and so were my views. Since then, my child has joined Project Prima Volta and all of a sudden my eyes are open to a whole other world and now I see how an investment into securing these buildings and spaces to create and hold onto these important spaces is so valuable! As well as the injection of life this precinct will open up! It’s marvelous!

26/10/18 – I particularly like the inclusion of the laneways and connecting spaces, make Hastings great again. Glad to see the inclusion of iwi as Kahungunu is rich in history that non-maori are not always privileged to see or hear for example they may not have ever stepped foot on a marae locally to hear the stories. The new opera can help share these stories, make it grand. Childhood memories of going there was its scale and grandness. Would be great if there was restaurant and or cafe in the vicinity for pre and post events.

26/10/18 – Have a focal point for photo opportunities eg Pania of the Reef, Rothmans Building places of interest where people visit for the photo or selfie. We need these types of things in Hastings to draw visitors back to Hastings City which over the years has seen many shops close and we have what seems a $2 shop in every block. Please consider carparking – When the Opera House has events, lack of parking is a real issue. Make the car parking longer than an hour please and affordable.                                                                                                                                                                      

29/10/18 – A brave Borough Council built both iconic building over two years, on a very small population base simply by agreeing to borrow all the money…they had real foresight which is being replicated by the current Council.  Well done!!

2/11/18 – I love your ideas so far! I do hope the dance floor will be kept, we so loved coming here for dances especially art deco time and really missed having such a space for dancing.

26/03/19 – Draft concept designs look absolutely ‘mean’ – awesome az!! Beautiful, Functional, Community Consulted, Hastings CBD Beautification, Kahungunu Creative Innovative Tribal Tangata Whenua Mana Whenua Invested Municipal Building . . . < 3 Love It!! Well Done!!