Project site and activities
The site is located at 48 Aro Street between Abel Smith Street and Palmer Street. It includes a community centre hall, community centre offices, preschool, former tennis pavilion (unoccupied), Abel Smith Street garages, sports court, and a public playground, which is also used by the preschool.
Aro Park adjoins the site, and there are many pedestrian links through and around the site. Wellington City Council owns the site and maintains the community buildings.
The community centre is operated by the Aro Valley Community Council (AVCC), with funding from the Council to support community activities and community development. There are a wide range of regular activities at the community hall, including yoga, exercise classes, dance, music, public meetings, school holiday programmes, annual community fair, and social functions.
Project timing and funding
This is a three year design and construction project, approved in the Long Term Plan. It has a budget of approximately $1 million.
- October 2016 - March 2017: community scoping workshops, concept designs
- From June 2017: detailed designs and consents
- June 2018 - July 2019: construction. Schedule to be determined
Community design process
We are supporting a community-led design process. This means allowing people who use the space to participate in plans for the site and building. The plans would be inspired by community needs and future vision, including looking at what physical resources contribute to and support a strong and connected social environment.
The AVCC has already gathered some initial feedback from the community, and is planning facilitated workshops from October to December to further develop a sense of the community vision for the site. Concept designs will closely follow on from, and be informed by, this community engagement stage.
Community workshops: A Festival of Place
On the weekend of 18-20 November 2016 the community saw a series of events focused on developing Aro Valley's common spaces. This built on a month long programme led by participatory place makers, Anne Cunningham and Cally O'Neil, interviewing people who used the common spaces and had a strong connection with its past.
The Festival of Place kicked-off with a Friday evening event to celebrate Valley spirit and identity. Quick-fire presentations explored Berlin’s artist squats, Aro’s persistence and determination, Loomio’s wizardry in bringing people together and many more.
On Saturday at the Aro Valley Preschool there were activities for children, archive materials, opportunities to record ideas on the wall, experiences and thoughts - and together the community made bunting from images relevant to Aro Valley’s future. The aim was to meet a wide range of people and hear their stories and perspectives on Aro Valley.
Sunday was the final day in this series. At a conversation café in the community centre, people discussed key questions and recorded comments on paper table cloths for all to respond and add detail. There was also a ‘Hard Hat area for Hard Issues’ to talk about the risks involved in this project. The intent of these discussions was to highlight community values and needs to guide future phases of design.
Our Centre Our Plan, April 2017
- Saturday 1 April 2017, 11.30am – 3.30pm: Aro Valley Community Centre, 48 Aro Street
This second community workshop will summarise thoughts from the Festival of Place, and work towards priorities for the project.
Background and history
‘Aro Valley was part of the original New Zealand Company purchase of 1839. The Waimapihi stream, a valued fishing and fresh water stream, flowed down the valley and through the community centre site. Early settlers called the stream Aro, as it passed across Te Aro flats before entering the harbour near what is now the junction of Taranaki and Manners Street. The street, originally Wordsworth Street, inherited the name, and in 1926 the stream was enclosed in a large brick culvert and became part of the city’s stormwater system.’ From a submission to WCC by AVCC, 2004
The community buildings at AVCC site have been established ad-hoc over the past 40 years. After plans failed to build a motorway down Aro Street and through the site, the land was acquired by the Council in 1974. The former school site was intended for use as a park and community centre.
The community moved a prefab hall to the site in 1977 and further established a community hub with CAB offices, a preschool operating in the hall, and a community social worker on the site.
Further development of community facilities has occurred around the site, and the community centre is now part of a wider community precinct.