Facilities  |  27 Nov 2020

The early design of The Court Theatre’s new central city home is complete.

Christchurch City Council and The Court Theatre have today released the concept design for the new theatre in the city’s Performing Arts Precinct.

The foyer of The Court Theatre. Image: Haworth Tompkins.

Preeminent London-based architects Haworth Tompkins, Athfield Architects and a wider consultant team have been working on the concept design, which is the first stage of the design process, since July this year.

It will be presented to the Council’s Financial and Performance Committee next Thursday, 3 December. The committee will also consider a recommendation to progress the design next year.

The new three-storey Court Theatre will be built on the corner of Colombo and Gloucester Streets.

It will include a 360-seat main playhouse auditorium; a 130-seat studio theatre, where children’s and family shows can be held; and front-of-house facilities.

All aspects of a working theatre, including set-building, costume-making and rehearsals, will be based on site, with plans to make these usually back-stage activities more visible to the public.

The building design will be environmentally-friendly, with the use of natural materials, ventilation and light.

Christchurch City Council Principal Advisor Citizens and Community Brent Smith says this is an important milestone.

“Releasing this concept design on schedule, and on budget, is a reflection of the great collaboration between the Council, The Court Theatre, our architects and the wider consultant team that has taken place over the last few months. We’re thrilled to be able to share these initial designs and looking forward to continuing to fine-tune the design over the coming months.”

The Court Theatre Chief Executive Barbara George says, “We are excited to see our new home progressing on schedule and budget. Since the earthquakes it has been our dream to build a world- class fit-for-purpose theatre centre. We are working together with the Council team to turn this dream into an unmatched reality for our patrons, our artists and our community.”  

The Gloucester Street side of The Court Theatre. Image: Haworth Tompkins.

Athfield Architects Principal Jon Rennie says, “It is a privilege to be involved in such an important project to expand, and improve, the Performing Arts Precinct and to design new spaces for performance in Christchurch.

"It has been an intense and highly productive period for the entire design team, building from the work done previously by Council, The Court and Matapopore.

“We look forward to further collaboration with Haworth Tompkins and the wider team in the new year and we cannot wait to deliver this key piece of social infrastructure that will enable The Court to return to the centre of the city,'' Mr Rennie says.

Construction of the new Court Theatre is expected to begin in early 2022 and it is due to open in late 2023.

Athfield Architects, Haworth Tompkins, landscape architects Canopy and Gap Filler are also working on the design for public space in the Performing Arts Precinct, in partnership with Matapopore. A series of laneways from Gloucester, Colombo and Armagh Streets will draw people to a central courtyard in the middle of the Precinct, which will be used for a range of outdoor performances from busker shows to kapa haka festivals.

At the same time, the Council is continuing to investigate options for a carpark building in the Performing Arts Precinct. Tenders are currently out for a company to design, build, own and operate a carpark building on the site and close on 11 December.

The Council is committing $30 million towards the development of the Performing Arts Precinct, which includes the construction of The Court Theatre, the public space and landscaping. This funding was set aside in the Council’s Long Term Plan 2018-2028.

The Court is also fundraising $6 million as its contribution towards the project and the Crown has provided the land and some funding under the terms of the global settlement agreement with the Council.