Delivering the “wow” factor to earthquake-damaged central Christchurch the EntX complex, with its seven Hoyts cinemas, restaurants and bars, has provided a new social hub to the city’s CBD.

Located on Colombo Street across from the central bus exchange, the cinema and dining complex features a striking wall cladding on the triple height, 15m high atrium of the development in a mix of colours to represent the patchwork landscape of the Canterbury Plains.

Eurotray® Angle Seam, Dimond Roofing’s premium architectural tray product was chosen to create the unique exterior in varying widths, lengths and colours posing some spectacular challenges – not the least of which was the sheer scale of the building – for Calder Stewart Construction  and CS Roofing Canterbury.

Designed by Ignite Architects, the brief of the design for the building was very clear, says Jamie Irvine, Ignite’s Associate and Registered Architect.

“The complex is an integrated entertainment and dining development connecting to the surrounding streetscapes.

“Given the city block length of the façade and the large cinema volumes the building would need to accommodate, it became clear that the architecture and cladding would need to be bold, distinctive and texturally relevant for the city of Christchurch”.

The EntX Entertainment complex is composed of three forms, signified with material and shape. The dining concourse is a glass box and is sandwiched between the heavy concrete anchor of the cinema boxes with the “green box hedge” running the length of Colombo Street evoking the wind breaks all over the Canterbury Plains.  
The designers choice of colour, structure, form and texture is inspired from the various themes from the Canterbury countryside – box hedges, field patterns and mountain ranges; material selections have come from local sustainable sources providing elements of low maintenance and environmental sensitivity.

Eurotray® is a lightweight material with the ability to be both vertically and horizontally run but it requires specialised, expertise in installation, the task on this project with its array of colours making precision and attention to detail of the highest quality. It was decided early on that metal cladding would be the best way to reinforce the architectural concept for the complex.

The Hoyts’ cinema component is boldly faced in concrete with the dining/atrium side of the building featuring vertical, variously toned metal strip cladding interspersed with vertical, slender glazing. Selection of the Eurotray® colours was made from different green and yellow hues derived from the plains environment. There are slender strips to represent the poplar tree wind belts and each panel on the façade has a random mix of colours, widths and lengths of metal tray material. Although each panel has the same base panel the different colours means each panel has a unique pattern.

Most of the elevations were clad in metal sheet products to achieve the crisp lines, durability and colour options, the Colombo Street elevation clad in all metal products - Eurotray® in Colorcote steel and feature elements in Alucobond aluminium cladding to provide street level interest. Alucobond popouts in a Champagne Bronze were selected because of the different colours and tones produced at different angles.  The bronze colour in the tones complements the green and yellow patchwork quilt cladding. A ground floor awning was formed with a zig zagging eave feature. 

The main innovation was how to replicate the concept of the Canterbury Plains and poplar wind breaks to the metal cladding systems. The cladding panels used three standard cladding panel lengths and widths - 305, 420 and 515mm in width and up to 6m in length.  The colours came from the standard powder coating range with a good number of complimentary greens, yellows and greys. After much discussion and deliberation five colours were chosen; smooth cream, river gum, mist green, grey friars and karaka.

Says Ignite’s Jamie Irvine: “On first impression these colours appear not to fit together, however the combination of pattern variation and colour mix created a balanced, harmonious whole. To ensure a high level of randomness on each cladding panel, a random colour and length generator was created.  Each panel used the same combination of tray widths across a panel, but the colours and lengths were randomised.  This ensured that the panels would not appear “designed” but rather purely natural with an organic pattern such as the leaves on a tree or the patchwork Canterbury Plains.
“These colours and lengths were then overlaid onto the standardised cladding width dimensions. Panel drawings with dimensions were provided to the contractor to follow on site. The whole process from selection to installation was seamless and despite the apparent complexity, the contractor completed the installation perfectly”.

Creating the cladding colour palette
CS Roofing Canterbury, with its team of highly skilled tray installers, was tasked with bringing this complex and challenging vision for the EntX complex to life. It required a lot of planning and attention to detail getting from the plans on paper to ordering sheets per bay in the specified colour.  On site the facade sheets were processed on the ground floor of the building and then delivered out through the windows to be fitted to the exterior walls with the team working together along the scaffold to get the product out, positioned and fitted.

It was the scale of the complex with seven cinemas on the first and second levels and 18 restaurants and bars on the ground floor of a triple height, 15m high atrium that CS Roofing Canterbury installers were required to physically tackle each day on the job – having to scale eight tiers of scaffolding equivalent to 12-14km daily up and down the scaffold. Shane Johnstone, Project Manager for CS Roofing Canterbury and his team of six can feel proud of their efforts, the 15m high atrium being the largest Eurotray® cladding job that CSRC had undertaken with thousands of trays passing through their hands.

The central city location of the building also made the job challenging as traffic control had to swing into action each time there was a delivery; this could only happen at certain times of the day, so timing was crucial.

Sustainability of EntX build
Lifestyle costs: Materials were selected for high durability and simple recycling methods; concrete, steel, brick and recycled timbers can all be reinstated to their constituent parts quite easily compared to most composite materials.

Reuse of materials and embodied energy: 
As a means to bring back the ‘materiality’ of post earthquake Christchurch and as a simple way to reuse, Ignite Architects had interior materials such as timbers and bricks handpicked from local demolition yards near the site which reduced their embodied energy. The original patina was retained with no energy spent on the production and transportation of the material than simply reinstalling. These materials now have a second life with no further energy required to re-purpose them.

Prefabrication:  This system is where specific labour and effort go into forming parts offsite in specific factories to make installation quicker and easier. This is an efficient way of reducing the waste on site and the reduction of man hours spent on a project. The cladding panel frames and ply substrate were all prefabricated offsite and craned into place. Constructing this building in a traditional manner would have resulted in at least double the labour moving materials up and down the scaffolding alone. 

EntX as a catalyst for sustainable development: Building a building without car parking was a bold move for Christchurch. However the location alongside a number of new parking buildings in the central city, was deemed non-essential. We need to think of other means of transport using scooters, bikes or other modes of transportation to get to places within our city. This hopefully encourages other businesses to favour density and people-oriented design rather than a car-centric city. 

Ignite Architects
Ignite Architects embrace the creation of spaces for people; places to live, work and play that enhance quality of life. Renowned for delivering visually inspiring architecture and interior design, for over 30 years Ignite have been designing on an international scale from their six Australasian studios. Ignite deliver unique and memorable experiences for a variety of hospitality and entertainment operators; and by placing end-users at the centre of each project, Ignite create designs that entice, engage and encourage users to linger. 

Ignite Architects:  Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown and Sydney
Jamie Irvine
Telephone: 03 903 2747

Main Contractor: Calder Stewart Construction

Roofing/Cladding Manufacturer: Dimond – Christchurch

Profile: Eurotray® in Colorcote steel

Installer: CS Roofing Canterbury Ltd