News | 12 July 2018

Construction to begin on temporary ballet rehearsal space

Wellington City Council will begin construction of a temporary home for the Royal New Zealand Ballet on Monday 23 July which means the Michael Fowler Centre car park will close from 6am on Saturday 21 July.

Royal New Zealand Ballet temporary location plans
Artist's impression of site

The prefabricated building will be assembled in the car park and is expected to take three to four months to construct.


Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, who also holds the Council’s Arts portfolio, says the RNZB is a beloved city institution and that the move means Te Aro – traditionally the creative centre of Wellington - will not lose its intimate connection with the arts.


“Prefabricated buildings are becoming the norm for cities that are challenged by issues like resilience and space. In Wellington, the fact that we can get something like this up means that we have options for our creative sector to continue thriving.”


The building will house the RNZB while it vacates the St James Theatre for earthquake strengthening.


“The work on the St James is planned to be completed in time for the 2020 New Zealand Festival, but is likely to be completed before then, says the City Council’s Property Manager, Peter Brennan.


He says the timeline has changed slightly now that contractors have been engaged and had an opportunity to better understand the construction methodology which has had some impact on the design.


“The strengthening work is being overseen by a heritage architect to ensure that heritage elements are protected during the works. We need to get this work done to make this wonderful, iconic building more resilient and to protect it for the foreseeable future.”


The work will strengthen the St James Theatre complex to a minimum 67 per cent New Building Standard.


“Given the closure of the Michael Fowler Centre carpark, we advise the public to plan their journeys, and leave plenty of time to find alternative parking,” Mr Brennan says.


The nearest alternative off-street car parks are the Civic Square car park on Harris Street, and Wilson Parking on Bond Street.


Mr Brennan says no final decision has been made about what will happen to the car park and the building once the RNZB returns to the St James Theatre.


“However the building is being built in a way to allow the structure to be removed and reassembled in a different location if required.”