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Part of the Positively Wellington Venues
111 Wakefield Street, Wellington, New Zealand. P.O.Box 2199 Wellington.
Phone (04) 801 4231. Fax (04) 801-4277.
In 1900 the Wellington City Council resolved to erect a Town hall
and Architects were invited to send in competitive designs for a
new town hall and municipal buildings to be sited on reclaimed land
at the foot of Cuba street.
The competition was won by local Architect Joshua Charlesworth with
a design in the classical Renaissance style, the construction being
of load bearing ( non-reinforced ) brick walls laid in cement mortar
and on concrete strip foundations. The brickwork of the walls was
plastered, stucco-adorned and lined to simulate a stone building.
Columns, cornices and other embellishments were moulded in concrete.
The Town Hall in about 1916 - cw the building
in 2004 (below) from about the same vantage point.
The foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Cornwall and York
in 1901 and the building was opened to public acclaim on 7 December
It was heralded a “well-planned, commodious and beautiful building”
and “the experts and general public agreed in pronouncing the
acoustic properties of the hall to be perfect” (Wellington Times).
In 1906 the grand organ was assembled and installed. Wellington
Town hall rated amongst the top ten of the world!
1922 saw the installation of the clock in the tower, however 10
years later both the clock and tower were removed as a precaution
following the 1931 Napier earthquake. In following decades cornices,
tall pediments, the portico, corinthian and ionic capitals were
all removed to pre-empt further earthquake damage, the result
being a somewhat plainer exterior than in the original design.
Assembling the organ in 1905-06
(click to enlarge)
The Town Hall in 2004 - The MFC is on the left, Civic Square
on the right.
In the 1970s the construction of the Michael
Fowler Centre next door put the future of the Town Hall in
jeopardy. It did not meet the current seismic codes and would
require extensive strengthening to be saved. In 1984 the council
decided to preserve the building ( the quality of the concert
chamber being a strong argument in its favour) and in 1989 voted
for an integrated Civic Centre scheme.
On 31 December 1990 the doors of the Old town hall closed for
‘conservation and adaptation’ to begin. Mainzeal property and
construction were contracted to strengthen, refurbish and redevelop
the Wellington town hall using Works consultancy services for
Architecture and heritage consultancy.
Seismic strengthening was a significant part of the project.
Demolition and restoration work revealed and reinstated original
features which had been hidden under plaster work for many years.
The main auditorium was fully renovated and restored, modernising
the concert space including the installation of a hydraulic stage
accessing the basement car park.
The new Ilott concert chamber was designed in the style of a traditional
chamber music room.
The concert chamber seats 300 and the main auditorium 2000. The
West Gallery and Williams and Adams gallery above were newly created
spaces opening up the previously unused space between the town
hall and Municipal building and providing entrances from the town
hall onto the new Civic Square.
The town hall complex was reopened in time for the 1992 International
Festival of the Arts.
(notes by Kirsty Chamberlain Dec 97)
CAD drawings presented here are extracted from
a 3D computer model of the Town Hall, created from on site laser
measurements during 2004, and with reference to Works Consultancy
Services paper plans of the building.
Thanks also to Mike Lamb of Lamb Design for access to various
2D CAD drawings of parts of the MFC and Town Hall.
Townhall Home |
Auditorium | Civic Suite
| Green Room |
| West Court
| West Gallery