Waikato Regional Theatre
Hamilton, New Zealand
A new cultural heart for the city and region.
The venue will host touring musicals and drama, locally produced theatre and dance, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
The city of Hamilton in the Waikato region is the country’s fourth most populous and third fastest-growing urban area. The Founders Theatre, built in 1962, was until recently the city’s largest and best-known theatrical venue with a 1,250-seat capacity, but it closed abruptly in 2016 due to health and safety concerns.
Momentum Waikato Community Foundation, with support from Hamilton City Council, engaged us to lead the development of a new venue. Following extensive consultation, we created the concept for a new 1,300-seat flexible lyric theatre. The venue hosts community productions, touring musicals and drama, locally produced theatre and dance, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal New Zealand Ballet.
“The challenge for Charcoalblue was to respond to a regional community in need of a new focus for its popular performing arts culture...this is a project with consultation at its core.”
Eric Lawrence, Melbourne Studio Principal
A render by JASMAX Architects of the exterior of the theatre.
An early render of the auditorium.
'The evolving designs are being driven not only by future user’s functional needs but also the aspiration of the community for a new “gathering place” which will motivate and change.' - Eric Lawrence
“It will be a hub that will be used by everyone, from community groups to international performers.”
Erin Shepherd, Consultant
The city centre site offers a rich cultural heritage and renewed city centre engagement with the Waikato River, connecting to parkland and providing excellent views. It builds on other performance, museum and gallery spaces to solidify the area as an arts precinct within Hamilton. The new venue also links to the refurbishment of the historic Hamilton Hotel to provide a lifestyle art hotel and visual art gallery.
Charcoalblue's vision was revealed at a Hamilton City Council meeting on Thursday, and councillors unanimously backed more investigation of the concept.