Ruataniwha Kaiapoi Civic Centre
A ‘living room’ and meeting point for the community in a single building.
The North Canterbury town of Kaiapoi was one of the worst affected areas in the aftermath of the 2011/12 earthquakes. Warren and Mahoney’s early involvement with the project included an analysis of the council’s strategic objectives for the renewal and reshaping of the town’s central business district. The resultant design co-located a number of key civic facilities under one roof, creating a ‘living room’ and meeting point for the community in a single building. Significantly, this building’s site at the very heart of Kaiapoi afforded a unique opportunity to address the broader desires and objectives identified by the town plan. Reconfigured boundaries and street edges have allowed an outdoor civic square to be created, which will anchor planned future pedestrian links across the river and along its stop banks.
The building responds to the site’s triangular geometry and river aspect. Meeting and reading spaces, increasing in transparency and openness, unfold toward the river and retail area. Sunshade and canopy elements combine simple geometric forms to provide a legible yet abstract silhouette.
The building is designed to be inherently informative (in accordance with its purpose) by visually exposing various safety and passive design features. These include exposed services and structural bracing elements, a ‘stack effect’ natural/mixed mode ventilation system, high levels of insulation and shading, and a low-damage structural design solution to mitigate the effects of seismic events. Structural and accessibility design achieve above-code performance standards. Internal and external planning specifically allows for adaptability and expansion to suit the changing needs of a rapidly growing township.