Wanaka Sports Facility

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The principal concept for the design was based around its function as a multi-use sports and recreation space with the internal heights determined by the guidance from various sports advisory bodies. 

The principal concept for the design was based around its function as a multi-use sports and recreation space with the internal heights determined by the guidance from various sports advisory bodies. 

The Wanaka Recreation Centre provides 2,500m2 of dry sports space and 2,000m2 of aquatic space under one roof. 

The facility builds on the success of Ashburton’s EA Networks Centre and was developed to provide sports courts and aquatic space for the local community. 

A masterplan was developed to include outdoor sports fields and to allow the future expansion of the facility. The site looks out towards the Southern Alps and Mount Iron. The use of a low maintenance timber structure, a neutral white colour palette and stainless-steel pools provides a welcoming and calming experience for patrons. 

The project was delivered over two stages. Stage 1 included the dry sports centre and stage 2 included the aquatic centre components.  As part of our engagement we led a process of community consultation and council engagement which included public meetings and workshops. 

For the indoor component, the brief called for an arena the size of two netball courts with associated changing and administration spaces. Provision for future extension to four courts and the aquatic hall was taken into account. This resulted in a linear and modular approach allowing the facility to be extended in either direction as the needs of the community grow. 

The resulting design offers a state-of-the-art multi-purpose master planned sports facility serving the Wanaka community and the Upper Clutha. The facility includes a large indoor sports hall accommodating for a multitude of sports, and tiered seating for up to 250 spectators. Additionally, the sports hall can be configured as banquet hall that can cater for up to 600 guests. A separate wing hosts a meeting room and kitchen, toilets and changing rooms, staff office, lockable storage space, and reception area. 

The integrated aquatic hall features a 25m, eight-lane lap pool, adult hot pool and a dedicated learners’ pool with separate toddlers’ area. It shares the main entrance and reception area, but with its own changing facilities including male and female change rooms, three family change rooms and one accessible change room. Sport England planning principles were researched and adapted during the design process, which created a more efficient building layout which was both more cost effective to construct, and easier to operate.

Sport England planning principles were researched and adapted during the design process. Adopting Sport England principles created a more efficient building layout which is both more cost effective to construct, and easier to operate.

One of the challenges presented was the sympathetic placement of a building of this size in a visually sensitive landscape. In order to reduce the bulk of the structure, the administrative facilities were organised into a lower timber clad bar which slides in front of the main arena. The scale of these spaces act in a way to create a spatial transition to the large volume of the main space. The main hall itself was clad in an insulated metal panel cladding system with a vertical emphasis on the front façade. A random effect of panels in different colours and gloss levels help to blend the structure into the landscape beyond. 

In 2019, the Wanaka Recreation Centre was shortlisted at the 2019 INDE.Awards that celebrate the Indo-Pacific region’s most progressive design and architecture - the only New Zealand project shortlisted alongside seven others in the wellness space category, and one of only two buildings in the whole of Aotearoa among a total of 126 projects selected across 13 categories from 14 countries.

Thunes Cloete, QLDC general manager community services, welcomed recognition by the awards jury as a reflection of the Council’s commitment to providing high-quality, fit-for-purpose community facilities.

“Sport and recreation hubs like Wanaka Recreation Centre play a key role in strengthening social connections across the district and improving the wellbeing of our community. Good design ensures that these facilities provide a welcoming, inclusive space that incorporates the latest architectural thinking in tune with the local environment,” said Dr Cloete.

“This latest recognition is a testament to all our project partners, especially architects Warren and Mahoney for designing a multi-use centre that creates a sense of belonging and encourages participation, and also to the Upper Clutha community who visit in increasing numbers to swim, keep active and enjoy the space.”

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180713 Wam  Wp 0126 Better Crop