Wellington Scoop

Athfields to plan Civic Square music hub, including strengthened Town Hall

News from WCC
The Wellington City Council, Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra have collectively awarded Athfield Architects the opportunity to develop concept designs to progress ideas for a music hub around Wellington’s Civic Square.

Wellington’s Acting Mayor, Justin Lester, says Athfield Architects will build on its extensive knowledge of Civic Square and surrounding buildings to come up with the best fit for the music hub and civic precinct concept.

“Athfield Architects has a long history with Civic Square having designed the space and Wellington Central Library in the 80s and early 90s. It’s great that they’re involved in the next evolution of the area and I’m excited to see what Athfields will come up with.”

The aim for Athfield Architects will be to explore existing buildings and spaces – including the Town Hall – as a potential home for the NZSO and Victoria’s Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music, and create a world-class centre for excellence and innovation for music performance and education that reflects Victoria’s vision to foster creative capital.

NZSO Chief Executive Christopher Blake says: “The selection of Athfield Architects is an important milestone for the music hub project and for the future of the Town Hall. The NZSO is delighted with the appointment and looks forward to working with the team Athfields has assembled during the concept design process.”

The Town Hall auditorium, a world-class acoustic space, is the pivotal site around which to cluster a music hub. Athfield Architects has secured specialist design support for the project from Tim Ronalds Architects, based in the UK. They have particular expertise and experience in relation to the design of music education and performance spaces.

Athfield Architects has been appointed to complete the design phase through to concept stage. It will then be reviewed, including a feasibility analysis, before proceeding to the next stage – ultimately requiring formal approval and sign-off by all three parties later next year.

“Victoria University is delighted to be working with Athfield Architects to explore the potential of this site. The concept designs will be pivotal as we explore the feasibility of partnering with Wellington to create a renewed vision of education, music and creative arts excellence for the benefit of the entire community,” says Victoria’s Pro Vice-Chancellor of Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Jennifer Windsor.

The required earthquake strengthening of the Town Hall will be done as an integrated package with the fit-out of the music facilities.

Earthquake strengthening of the Council buildings, and other improvements in the Civic Precinct, have been budgeted at $100 million. This package of work was approved in the Long-term Plan after an extensive period of public consultation.


  1. Curtis Nixon, 11. September 2015, 10:42

    Can I suggest that the redevelopment is the ideal time to change the boringly named ‘Civic Square’ to ‘Sir Edmund Hillary Plaza’ in honour of Sir Ed.
    As far as I know Wellington hasn’t named anything in honour of this great New Zealander.

  2. Guy, 12. September 2015, 7:25

    Curtis: No. Hillary was into tall, sharp, wild, outside, pointy things called mountains, not tame flat civic areas next to Council buildings. It’s just not the right thing. By all means search for something to commemorate Sir Ed, but that’s not it.

  3. Curtis Nixon, 12. September 2015, 12:14

    Memorials are for the living, not the dead. Just because Sir Ed climbed mountains, doesn’t mean we should name one after him. He also built schools and hospitals in Nepal. Maybe we should name one of those after him?

  4. lindsay, 12. September 2015, 12:46

    Let’s get back to the central subject, which is: for how many more years is the Wellington Town Hall going to be closed? It’s already been locked up for far too long. There should be a shared concern about the urgency of making it available again.