Council Release concept design plans for the Theatre Royal & Museum Project

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Published: 14 May 2021

Timaru District Council’s project to bring a new museum and a renewed theatre into the heart of the city has reached another major milestone with the sign off of concept designs.

Council signed off on the concept plans at a meeting this week, enabling the project to move onto the detailed design phase.

The project, which is being part funded through the Government’s COVID-19 Stimulus fund, will break ground later this year.

In addition to floor plans, councillors were also presented with artist impressions to show the scale of the spaces.

Council Project Manager Nicole Timney said that although the design will evolve at the next stage, the impressions were designed to give an indication of the scope and scale of the project.

“The finer details of the design will evolve naturally as we move through each phase. The entire complex will cover approximately 4,430 m2, or about 17 standard tennis courts,” she said.

“The public facing theatre facilities will remain approximately the same size, but aspects such as the fly floor and the back of house facilities will be improved and changing rooms refurbished.

"The new Heritage facility will spread across three levels. The ground floor will have a reception area, a temporary exhibition space, function space, back of house facilities and an education and staff support space. The permanent exhibitions will be located on the upper floor.

Jane Rooney from Architectus said that the artist impressions indicate how Architectus plan to retain The Criterion Hotel and integrate it into the design of the complex.

“The heritage bluestone walls from the Criterion Hotel will be strengthened and stabilised so they can be retained,” she said.

“The original textured walls will add richness and interest appropriate to the new Heritage Facility.”

While it will be operated as one complex, there will still be two entrances to the building from Stafford Street, one through the existing façade of the Theatre Royal and one through to the foyer of the new museum to offer street level access to the whole building while accommodating the steep slope of Stafford Street.

A significant efficiency in the new complex will be the introduction of shared building services covering all areas.

“The introduction of a central service zone between the two facilities reduces the overall size and extent of the services required,” said Rooney.

“Not only can front of house facilities and toilets be shared but it also means there are savings on things like ductwork, pipework runs and risers.”

The report also outlined two options to provide large vehicles access to the back of the house.

“During consultation the limited space to safely back a vehicle up to a loading dock was identified as a major deterrent to large scale productions making use of the facility,” said Timney.

The concept plan presented by Architectus seeks to overcome this limitation with a couple of options that will be decided on during the final design phase.

Trucks will either enter from Barnard Street, proceed down to a turning bay at the bottom of the access way and exit towards Barnard Street or they will enter from Barnard Street, immediately enter a turning bay and reverse the rest of the way to the loading dock. They can then exit forward.

Both options will be facilitated by the demolition of the Army Hall on Barnard Street. Council purchased this building with the intention to use the land to improve access to the back of the Building, and consent to demolish this building has been granted.

“Demolition works are due to start in the next two months to enable the construction of the new complex and carpark. These works are a necessary part of the development,” said Timney.

The Theatre Royal and Museum Project is aiming for a completion date in 2023.

For more information on the project and to download the concept plans visit:

Last updated: 14 May 2021