NZIA Nelson Marlborough Architecture Award – Public Architecture
Justine Harvey, “Trafalgar Centre Reinhabitation”, Architecture NZ, May/June, page 70 - 79
Nelson Marlborough Architecture Awards, Architecture Now, www.architecturenow.co.nz, 21 May
Designed and constructed in the 1970’s, modified (by others) in the early 2000’s, and closed in 2014 due to significant seismic concerns, the Trafalgar Centre is Nelson’s primary indoor events centre.
ISA has guided seismic strengthening of existing buildings, an entry pavilion to complete the Northern edge and master-planning to configure the complex and Rutherford Park to address the recently developed Maitai Walkway.
The Trafalgar Centre provides a long overlooked entry to the city, and adds the opportunity to support multifarious functions. Indoor sport, concerts, conferences, weddings, political rallies, even fashion shows: a public building in a provincial city must provide many supporting uses.
After months of painstaking remediation to the stadium with the help of Arup International, the pavilion invites something new. A space without direct function, it is black, glazed, horizontal and runs low into the verticality and noise of the stadium and opposing storage crescent. This isn’t just a building for collecting tickets and halftime refreshments, its somewhere to meet before the game, and as much transition out to the garden as into the stadium.
Looking and opening to both the stadium and park, the pavilion invites inhabitation. External spaces beneath the facetted eaves gather as might a Marae Atea. Seats informally open and close around mature and growing trees, even its raised plinth floor asks to be sat on.
Like Alec Bowman’s original stadium, the structural strengthening and pavilion are raw and elementally finessed around function. Whether new steel truss braces, folded aluminium facetted cladding, or warming timber boxed services, each is fabricated, scaled and finished to use, and to extend Nelson’s growing city to sea public pathway.