Architectural Sculpture

In 1990 Doug Turner, the Chairman of the Kerikeri Trust, and John
Dalton conceived the idea that Kerikeri and the Northland community, with its tradition for the arts, deserved a full size theatre together with hall and exhibition spaces. This new facility would replace the ageing Memorial Hall, originally a packing shed, which was used for many decades as Kerikeri's theatre and entertainment venue.

This was the basis of the original brief to architect Martyn Evans: To build a theatre to seat 400, with a stage fly tower, and to provide full theatrical technical facilities. In addition the facility should provide a “flat floored” hall/sport venue to seat 400 which could be opened to an adjoining Plaza further extending the seating capacity to 800. The Plaza (now under construction as stage 2 & 3) features a fully retractable canvas roof, supported by five 18 metre long curved Cellular beams, and folding doors which enables the Plaza and Hall to effectively become one for large exhibitions. This Plaza extension is intended to elongate and enhance the long sweeping curve of the building which has been affectionately  referred to by locals as “The Ski Slope”. Further to this is the inclusion of a small 60 seat theatre with rehearsal / break out rooms and public toilets.

The long narrow site dictated the rectangular footprint of the building, 90 metres long by 22 metres wide, with the balance of the site to accommodate the district council car park space requirements. The site slopes 4 metres from the rear to the Cobham Road main entry point.

Architect and designer Martyn Evans has brought a wealth of international and local experience and expertise to the project having worked on significant assignments in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, States of Jersey, France, Germany, Israel, Sweden, Kingdom of Tonga, Australia and New Zealand as an architect specialised in large commercial projects, recreational and sports buildings, educational buildings and theatre entertainment buildings. His innovative and creative approach to architecture is quite literally “outside the square” showing a unique affinity for fluid design both in form and function. The Centre in Kerikeri stands well alongside many worthy examples of his extraordinary sculptured approach to architecture.

Martyn takes great pride in the design and construction and openly acknowledges the considerable expertise of the many others whose contributions made this theatre a reality. Their specialist skills result in a theatre that will be of benefit to all in the community. Whilst Martyn's architecture could perhaps better be described as an art form more akin to sculptured form, he remains mindful of the absolute need for any building to fulfil its function in every aspect. To this end his involvement covers every facet of the design process. Here there is no room for mediocrity; excellence is the only accepted result. This has already paid dividends for the community with international opera companies seeking out the venue for debut performances and rehearsals in New Zealand.

Synergy between design and construction

The design process covered every aspect from the references to internationally accepted stage sizes from London theatres, provided by John Dalton's research, to the colour coded carpet designed not only to compliment the aesthetic values of the building but also to aid “traffic” flow around the theatre complex.  Lighting, rigging, sound, seating, air-conditioning, in short every conceivable detail imaginable contributes toward making this, The Kerikeri Centre, what has been described by experts as a state-of-the-art theatre.
The initial conceptual sketches done in 1991 are virtually identical to the final building design of today and are based on reflecting the exact uses of the spaces inside the building. The fly tower can be, in most theatres, a very ugly appendage on top of any theatre. To avoid this Martyn Evans has used the 4-metre slope of the site to have the stage and its 22-metre tower at the rear of the building and under the sloping seating of the theatre auditorium. The 400 seat Events Hall is 'tucked under' thereby reducing the apparent volume of the overall building.
Under the auditorium seating there is a pressurised plenium space, fed from a simple heat pump system in the plant room alongside. The heated or cooled air spins out through vents underneath the seating and rises through the auditorium space to exit upwards along the sloping auditorium ceiling to vent points at the top of the building. This method is the exact opposite to conventional air-conditioning systems, and is considerably cheaper to install, as following the principle of natural airflow ensures a far healthier environment within the building.
The result: the dramatic 'ski slope' roof shape that characterises the architectural design.
A considerable cost saving feature of the building was to eliminate lifts and use public ramps to access all levels of the building. The added benefit is that disabled people, goods, the theatre seating, tables and catering can be moved effortlessly up or down the building.
The use of two large prefabricated steel elements in the structure sped up the process of building with the additional benefit of cost savings.

The stage tower grid ('22 metre by 10 metres) that sits at the top of the stage tower and supports up to 35 tons of stage scenery and lighting was entirely prefabricated at the rear of the building and then lifted, in one piece, on to the top of the concrete slab tower structure. This entire operation took two hours, whereas the traditional method at this height, would have involved constructing a 17 metre high scaffolding above the stage floor to support the construction of the steel fabricated 'grid', with all its attendant difficulties and expense. The length of time taken to build this in the traditional manner would have been in excess of 2 months. The outer ends of the grid and its strong back (4 metres high by 22 metre long grid beam) are supported by two 500mm by 26 metre steel columns. 
The second large prefabricated element was the construction of the two lighting bridges that were lifted into position within one hour. Again, this highly complex curved design was built off-site and assembled at the rear of the building before being lifted into position.
The concrete lift slab system was found to be the most economical way to build such a large structure of over 5,000 square metres, that is seven stories high over the stage. Steel has been used extensively to 'tie' the concrete lift slabs together as described above with the 'grid' and the 'lighting bridges'. The steel roof is entirely supported by steel purlins that span across the 22-metre width of the building with intermittent supports. The 400-seat hall has, at its mid point, a 1.5 metre high by 16 metre long Steeltec box beam supporting the 400mm concrete plank floor to the garden bar above.

The efficiency of the circulation within the building makes for easy movement of people with clearly identifiable paths. The service planning of the building is very efficient as there is walk-in access to all plumbing and electrical ducts.
The end result has been very satisfying, as the design has excited the public by its boldness and near perfect acoustics.  New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, officially opened the first stage of the building on the 5th of August 2005. Among the many positive comments made were compliments to Martyn Evans for a design that "stimulates people to think". By any measure, aesthetic or functional, this building succeeds and is a tribute to the community, to the construction and particularly to the architect of such innovation.

Martyn Evans: Architect

Martyn Evans Architects, Kerikeri, Bay of Islands, New Zealand
Martyn Evans Architects have been involved in the practice of architecture for some 40 years both in the EU and New Zealand. Our experience has ranged from experimental architecture, large complex buildings to restoration of historical architecture as well as town and regional planning.

There are many examples of architectural innovation on the website that illustrates well the individual and innovative style of architectural sculpture Martyn Evans has become renowned for internationally.
Client: Kerikeri Civic Trust

Architect: Martyn Evans
Martyn Evans Architecture
 PO Box 144, Kerikeri, 0470
Bay of Islands, New Zealand.
Tel/Fax: +64 9 407 9349 
Mob/Text: +64 21 136 5324

Project manager: Eddie Martins
Main Contractor: BOI Centre Construction Limited
Steelwork: Truweld Engineering
Concrete waterproofing: Equus Watertight Technology
Theatre Facilities: Third Stage Limited
Insulation: Autex
Air conditioning: Chilltech
Concrete Fabricator: John Gardener, IES Ltd.
Plumbing: North Plumbing
Windows and Frames: Bay Aluminium and Mangonui Windows
Electrical: Strongman Dunn
Carpet Manufacture: EGE (Denmark)
Paint: Resene and Dulux
Structural and Geotechnical Engineers: PK Engineering
Mechanical Services Engineers: Lawrence Jones Partners
Theatre Advisory Services: John McKay Consultants
Fire Engineers: Design Generation
Landscape Architects: Christine Hawthorn
Photography: Kieth Williams

Roofing Manufacturer:
Steel and Tube Roofing
Telephone: 09 273 7628
Profile: ST 900
Colour: Mist Green

Roofing Contractor:
Graham Moor
Bay of Islands Roofing Ltd, Kerikeri
Telephone: 09 407 9288
Mobile: 021 924 042