Christchurch Girls’ High School Performing Arts Centre

Christchurch Girls’ High School (CGHS) Performing Arts Centre development forms part of the Christchurch Schools Rebuild programme which includes several in-progress and completed projects on the CGHS campus.

Following the demolition of the school’s auditorium after being significantly damaged during the Canterbury earthquakes, the need for a replacement was an opportunity to create a new purpose-built complex for the school’s Arts programme.

The building incorporates a 276-seat theatre, six dedicated music practise rooms, nine teaching spaces (shared between the music, drama and arts disciplines), a photography studio and a new administration area and entrance to the school.

The theatre is designed to be flexible with removable seats.

The building design embraces aspects of the existing Main Teaching Block to which it is connected on the west end through the use of board-finished concrete panels whilst providing modern design and a landscape which encompasses plenty of outdoor learning space and celebrates the riverside north-facing aspect of the building.

This is a complex site, given the ground conditions and tendency for lateral spread towards the Avon River, where ground improvement is an unseen but key aspect to the design. To overcome the risks associated with unforeseen ground conditions, ground improvement works were designed as an early package and undertaken in advance of the Building Contract.

Further challenges also included designing and consents for a building within the Christchurch City Council Floor Management Area. Although the building itself is not within the flood plain, this meant the surrounding landscaping and gravel raft required careful consideration and planning.

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