Concepts for the Municipal Buildings

Light and space, with a focus on the performing arts in their broadest form, are at the heart of a 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 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.
Fill out my online form.