Civic Theatre

Completion date
Cultural & Civic

After very real threats of demolition, this project provided major conservation, restoration and re-invigoration of a late 1920s atmospheric cinema, much loved for its eccentric fantasy and grandeur. We worked closely with consultants, stakeholders and other architectural practices in order to achieve the best result possible for the city.

The project involved careful research of heritage details with innovative and sensitive integration of contemporary building amenities.

Major structural changes were needed to support the conversion from cinema to contemporary lyric theatre. It was an exciting challenge to meet these modern needs whilst remaining true to the highest of heritage classifications and the fantasy feel of the interior.

Some of the unseen interventions include the lifting of proscenium arch and opera boxes, relocation of walls, a new fly tower, acoustic reverberation mitigation, smoke exhaust venting, concealed stage lighting bridges, concealed auditorium lighting and re-directed fire egress-ways.

These physical feats escape the awareness of the visitor, but are registered through a heightened experience of the space. Custom furniture and fittings reflect rigorous research and detailing. Even the re-created ‘night sky’ is realigned to be true to the southern hemisphere.

A great deal of effort went into creating both an immersive theatre experience, fully focussed on the contemporary stage event and a full-immersion heritage experience right from the front entry doors relating to the elaborate experience of the original construction in 1929.


  • 2001 NZIA – Resene Northern Regional Award for Architecture
  • 2000 NZIA – Resene Local Award for Architecture – Heritage
  • 2000 NZIA – Resene Local Award for Architecture – Colour Award
  • 2001 BeSt Design Awards – Interior Design Hospitality – Winne
  • 2001 New Zealand Property Council – Education and Arts – Excellence Award

Other team members

Hunter Gillies Registered Architect - Associate Principal Auckland
Richard Harris Principal Auckland
Phone+64 9 366 9620 Mobile+64 21 775 898 Save Contact
Christian Janzen Registered Architect - Associate Principal Auckland
Share this