Arise Church and bbc architects have had a long relationship which dates back to the time when Arise first came to Wellington, and bbc were a very young practice, when we shared an office. Many years on it has been wonderful to complete a project together that celebrates the growth of Arise.
The site in Lower Hutt is part of the former NZ Rail yards prominently located alongside the motorway and adjacent to the Park and Ride carpark. Due to contamination the groundwork required some careful management, and the design went through a number of iterations and physical locations on the site prior to the final siting being determined.
The brief for the Arise Centre was to provide a landmark building that was prominent and recognisable and to provide a centre for the Church’s offices which were formerly spread over several sites in Wellington. It is also intended to fill a gap in the current vicinity for a conference venue with a good performance space. It needed to have a generous and welcoming foyer as well as the auditorium, and allow space for a cafe and catering facility. The auditorium itself was to seat over 1200 people, and had to be flexible enough to be used in a range of ways, accommodating dance and music performance as well as general church services and more traditional conference requirements. The church offices would be located on the upper floor of the building, with the children’s church areas and parent space on the ground floor.
The design had to meet some acoustic challenges both internally between spaces and to the exterior. The challenge of building a performance space next to a motorway was not to be underestimated, and it was decided to wrap the offices and foyer around the building providing as much buffer as possible to the auditorium space. We wanted to articulate the act of wrapping with the facade of the building, and so emphasised it with the vertical glazing mullions. This was further reinforced with the use of colour and translucent glass to give the impression that the facades drape the building almost like fabric.
Inside the spaces are gently coloured by the yellow glazing, and this colour has been taken through the interior, reappearing in doors, and further integrating the facade with the space within. The colour itself bridges the office zone and its movement through the spaces provides a tangible link to the outside. Only the auditorium remains untouched as a black box sheltered behind.
The detailing of the building is clean and quiet. The material palette is simple and honest, and the careful attention the contractors paid to accurate finishing extends as far as the mechanical ducting. The overall effect is of a simple building form which provides an uplifting backdrop to the various functions it houses. Mostly though, the strength of the project is in the natural light and beauty of its interior space.