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Stunning new centre for Riccarton

Liki Udam May 5
Rarakau: Riccarton Community Centre will provide City Council service centre functions with rooms also available for use by the community.

Eight years after being closed due to earthquake damage, the new $4.5 million Rarakau: Riccarton Community Centre is open to service the needs of the local community, providing multiple meeting and activity spaces and a nod to its surroundings, Riccarton Bush Putaringamotu.

Watts and Hughes Construction was the project’s main contractor, with project manager Patrick McCorry saying it was great to be able to deliver such a cool building to the Riccarton community and the people of Christchurch.

“It was a great project to be involved with,” he says. “It is such a modern looking building in a prominent area. With a tight site and tight timeframes, everything had to be on the button.”

The new two-storey building on Clarence Street replaces the earthquake damaged building on the former Christchurch City Council site next door. It has a floor area of 760sqm and includes a council customer services area, a community hall, four activity/meeting rooms of varying sizes, and a kitchen.

The centre is fully accessible with a ramp at the entrance and a deck opening off the main hall on the ground floor.

Sustainability has been central to the project, with roof-mounted photovoltaic solar panels powering the energy supply.

The towering kahikatea trees of nearby Riccarton Bush inspired the centre’s full height exterior Techlam feature columns.

The use of yellow and maroon colouring also reflects the bush environment, while a forest pattern on the exterior walls further cements the local influence.

The name Rarakau has been specially gifted by Ngai Tuahuriri and also reflects the bush in the area and connects the new centre with all the rakau (trees) and Putaringamotu.

For the Watts and Hughes Construction team, the project required the devising of a complex dewatering methodology.

“We had to dig down deep enough to dewater as we went, then build the base back up for a solid footing for the building to sit on,” Patrick says.

The decorated concrete panels had to be protected during construction with sheets of plywood to ensure no damage was caused to them.

The busy Clarence Street location required a rigorous traffic management programme, with some lanes shut down after 9am and no exiting vehicles backing out from the site. Every vehicle had to drive into the compound and turn around before exiting.

Patrick says that the successful delivery of Rarakau: Riccarton Community Centre was due to a wonderful project team, including Watts and Hughes site manager Josh Stavropoulos and quantity surveyor Maria Rabe, who both performed pivotal roles.

Christchurch City Council project manager Kent Summerfield was great to work with, as was the project’s engineer and consultant, Beca.

Rarakau: Riccarton Community Centre will provide the usual City Council service centre functions, but with other rooms available for public use.

The wooden floored hall can hold 150 to 200 people, and the smaller spaces are available for hire for smaller scale community activities.

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