From the Resene News – issue 1/2004
Enduring art - Christchurch Art Gallery
Many years of debate and media coverage dating back to the late 1960's have preceded the creation of the new $50 million Christchurch Art Gallery, Te Puna o Waiwhetu in Worcester Boulevard, Christchurch.
Inherent inadequacies in the Robert McDougall Gallery facility design and floor space restrictions impacted on visitor comfort and limited the showing of the gallery's extensive exhibits to just 8% of the collection. In stark contrast, the new gallery, over six times the size of the Robert McDougall Gallery, will showcase 40% of the permanent collection, rotating the displayed works over time so that regular visitors will have the opportunity to view the entire collection.
The new facility has been designed with a firm eye on the future and the need for space to cater to increasing collection size and visitor traffic. Incorporating four main exhibition halls, a 180 seat auditorium, underground parking and a good blend of visitor comforts, the 400,000 visitors expected each year will have ample space to soak in the artistry of the works and the atmosphere. Over 5,500 artworks are housed within the complex, each carefully displayed, labelled and catalogued to enable fluidity of display over time.
2350 square metres of transparent, translucent and opaque mica impregnated glass adorns a curvilinear frontage, striking against the predominantly utilitarian design. Inside, exhibition spaces are located over two levels, linked by central grand stairs and lift facilities and joined by balconies that focus one's attention on the Sculpture Garden beyond the expansive foyer. As demanded by the original brief, a minimum of 40% of the site area has been dedicated to the open space sculpture garden, an indulgence that is the cause of much delight for visitors.
27000 tonnes of concrete are bound into the final design accompanied by over 1.7 kilometres of internal lighting and a colour palette designed to bring both calm clarity and delightful surprise to the exhibition spaces. Colour variations are entwined into the design plan to act as an orientation mechanism.
Joining the concrete is structural steel finished in Resene Imperite IF 503 Metallic on the exterior and paperfaced plasterboard on the interior. A wide range of hues drawn predominantly from The Range collections and tinted into a mix of Resene Environmental Choice approved products adorn both the interior and exterior, including Resene Lumbersider satin acrylic, Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen waterborne enamel, Resene Zylone 20 flat acrylic and Resene Sonyx 101 semi-gloss acrylic tinted to Resene Stonewall (deep beige neutral), Resene Tea (river boulder beige), Resene quarter and full strength Pearl Lusta (cream), Resene Half Sidecar (yellow), Resene Pohutukawa (deep red), Resene Espresso (rich brown), Resene Merino (off-white), Resene Allports (teal), Resene Dawn (neutral), Resene Sushi (lime green), Resene Gunsmoke (grey), Resene Bianca (warm off-white), Resene Spanish White (complex neutral) and Resene Tarawera (maritime blue), topped in ceilings of Resene Zylone 20 black to lower the perceived ceiling height and focus attention on the walls.
It's a clear case of patience and determination paying dividends. Over 30 years in the debating, planning and creating, Christchurch is now home to an art gallery that is turning the other art galleries green with envy.
Architect: The Buchan Group
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