The iconic Christchurch Town Hall complex consists of three major elements arranged together as one building. The complex was designed in 1965 by the architectural firm, Warren and Mahoney, in response to a competition for a purpose-built town hall.
The Christchurch Town Hall is a significant part of the urban fabric and vitality of Christchurch that has served as a gathering place for performances, cultural events and meetings since 1972. When it was opened the Christchurch Town Hall was regarded as one of New Zealand's premier performing arts centres. It was also the first new town hall in New Zealand in nearly 50 years.
The Town Hall is a superb example of brutalist architecture and Warren and Mahoney carefully merged raw concrete with the finer aesthetics such as brass, copper and vibrant colours to create a contradiction. The heritage building was in the midst of a refurbishment project when the devastating Christchurch earthquakes struck in 2010 and 2011. The refurbishment work was to include additional food and beverage facilities, an upgrade of bars and public toilets, refinement of acoustics to the James Hay Theatre, and fire and special services upgrades. The exterior of the building was to be refurbished along with new landscaping and paving to enhance the building's setting. Part of the rationale to restore rather than pull down was that this town hall had a special music association renowned for its good acoustics. Rated by the Guardian as being in the top ten world’s best concert halls in its day. This was due to its revolutionary design using wooden panels on the walls to ceiling.
The interior makes extensive use of high-quality materials, including meranti timber, white-painted and fair-faced concrete, laminated timber beams, and of course woven wool carpet. On the second floor, the foyer of the Douglas Lilburn Auditorium has a specially designed Axminister carpet with a geometric motif based on the form of the auditorium itself. The twinned balusters and roof trusses in meranti timbers echoed the visual theme of paired units dictated by the concrete structural members. Textiles (leather and cloth) for furniture and wall panels decorated with an abstract pattern of timber slats are a rich red; and the first floor is laid with a specially designed carpet with a geometric motif based on the same form as the auditorium. Marimekko patterned curtains are used to protect the north-facing glazed wall of the entrance block and signage is cast in brass. On the interior, the soffit and whole units of horizontal concrete elements (for example the rib floor slabs) are generally painted white, while vertical structural members are in fair-faced concrete.
Refined and delicate, the carpet is one of contrast and contradiction that harmonises bright red accents with repetitive patterns to jaw-dropping effect. Not only has this woven carpet preserved the original character and style of the building, but it is also perfectly suited for the supper high traffic area, offering acoustic insulation against the raw concreate walls and glass windows.
GH Commercial was honoured to be part of this restoration to reproduce the nostalgic Feltex Woven carpets that were specifically designed and installed in the building over 50 years ago.
The James Hay Theatre was considered one of the top 10 best concert halls when it was built. With its revolutionary design of wall to ceiling wall panels, a multi level sophisticated gallery theatre, extended seating with the ability to host dinners and dancing and featuring a beautiful proscenium arch. The James Hay Theatre Foyer Conference Room's carpet was identically reproduced to the 1995 renovation. The idea was to make a new carpet using the original Town Hall motif but this time with a revised colour scheme of spearmint greens and teal blues. The Victoria Room was meticulously designed from the colour of the door handles, to the lampshades and to the acoustic baffles. The carpet was reproduced to include petite and condensed 'Town Hall' motif in eye-capturing Green and Blue Tones. The Christchurch Town Hall has truly endured and risen again to take its rightful place in the canon of New Zealand Architecture. In 2020 The Christchurch Town Hall was entered as a Category 1 Historic Place on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero. The entry recognises the national significance of this community hub.
Product: Feltex Woven Carpet, Custom designs
Architect: Warren and Mahoney
Year completed: 2019