Redeveloping the Dunedin Town Hall was a complex challenge. The $45m project included complete upgrades of the heritage listed Municipal Chambers, the Dunedin Town Hall, and the Dunedin Centre all built between 1876 to 1938.
The central element of this project was to link the three buildings to provide a single integrated conference and theatre venue. Restoring and enhancing the original historical features was also an important requirement. Our modern architectural approach, using zinc cladding and extensive glazing, allowed us to provide one single exterior of the building with a clear definition between the existing historic fabrics and the new building elements.
Due to the history of the building, an important part of the project was to upgrade the facility to ensure it is up to building standard so it is safe and resilient for the future. The WSP Opus team also had to consider sub-basement excavations in the Town Hall in order to add mechanical ventilation ducts whilst preserving the historic World War II blast shelters.
Our design of the Dunedin Centre Foyer and Theatre spaces focused on dramatic contrast. Full height glass doors and a new glazed canopy create a welcoming entry to the building where visitors first experience a cosy and more intimate foyer before being led into a larger "white space" of the Theatre.
A neutral colour palette throughout the entire complex allows the refurbished foyer, conferencing and auditorium spaces to stand out with the use of colour in the carpet tiles and rich dark timber paneling provides warmth and texture.
Our unique approach using a new colour scheme to lighten and enrich the space has allowed the main Town Hall auditorium to undergo extensive work yet appear virtually untouched. Colour-changing lights create a visual connection to the historic elements in and on the building enhancing user experiences. Overall the philosophy has been to respect the existing architecture and only augment and embellish the features of the buildings.