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 $1.2 million phased as follows: 2016/17 $48,247; 2017/18 $109,935; 2018/19 $1,056,251.
- October 2016 - September 2017: community scoping workshops, concept designs
- From January 2018: preliminary and developed designs and consents
- October 2018 - July 2019: construction. Schedule to be determined
Concept cost estimates
A November 2017 cost estimate report compares five concept design options as rough estimates. There are multiple exclusions that will need to be included in future QS evaluations, which didn't have sufficient detail to be included in the concept stage. These concepts and prices are likely to change as the design progresses with further community and technical input.
In addition, the Quantity Surveyor has provided the following rough estimates for pavilion alternatives (without detailed engineering designs):
- Repair roof, seismic strengthen only = $300K - $400K
- Repair roof + upgrade to storage = $350K - $450K
- Repair + upgrade for occupation = $450K - $550K
- New build storage space $2,500/m2, $250K for 100m2
Cost estimates are one of many considerations in the design process. In this project, community participation is also a major component in how the designers consider solutions (other factors include functionality, building and district plan code requirements, safety, environment, neighbours).
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.
Community engagement to date
Over the past 16 months the Aro Valley community has come together to participate in plans for an upgrade of the community centre through events, interviews, an online questionnaire and interactive workshops. There have been five organised opportunities to share ideas, talk about what is important, set priorities and review initial designs. The feedback and information gathered has formed the brief for the project and given direction to the evolving designs.
Site residency, September- October 2016
This included interviews on site with community members and a series of workshops with Te Aro school children. This was followed with a questionnaire available on the Aro Valley Community Council website and advertised through the community centre's e-newsletter.
Festival of Place, November 2016
This two day event shared the history of Aro Valley, explored ideas from other communities, gave opportunities to record ideas on the wall, collected experiences and thoughts. The community worked together to make bunting from images relevant to Aro Valley. At a "Conversation Cafe" people discussed key questions and recorded comments on paper table cloths for all to respond and add detail to. There was also a "Hard Hat Area for Hard Issues" to talk about the risks involved in the project.
Our Place Our Plan, April 2017
The community explored, categorised and added to over 300 ideas collected from the Site Residency and Festival of Place. These ideas were used to set priorities and develop themes and ideas going forward. These are being used as a representation of the community's collective thoughts.
The key themes identified were: physical space, activity/use/events, environmental sustainability, rooms/spaces, homelessness, walkways and cars, H2O, community centre, emergency and environmental detail.
Design workshop, June 2017
Using the shared understanding of the communities' priorities from the Our Place Our Plan workshop, people drew ideas for the physical space of the centre and surrounds to inform designs going forward.
Concept designs on display, September 2017
Following on from the community design workshop, the project architect presented options for location and design of an expanded community centre. The existing centre hosted 20 hours of open sessions and semi-structured interviews with the architect, a community engagement consultant and the Aro Valley community to review the plans, discuss with others and give feedback on the design concepts. View design concepts here.
Preliminary design testing, April 2018
Preliminary designs aim to resolve the needs and issues on a site into a plan for the spaces. It’s a balancing act between different types of issues, and sets in place the main design moves. These will be refined further in the developed and detailed design stages. A Landscape Architect is also looking at improvements to the outdoor spaces.
In this phase, the preliminary design was presented to the community and feedback welcomed in April 2018 - feedback is still encouraged. View preliminary design here.
- Developed and detailed designs, April-June 2018
- Tender for construction contract, July 2018
- Construction (tentative) - beginning October 2018
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.