Realising the potential behind the vision
In 2013, the Kapiti College Board, having constructed the Sport and Recreation Centre and completed major upgrades of classrooms technology centre, turned its attention to the next pressing issue: the state of our facilities for the performing arts. The College has many talented young people but poor facilites to offer them.
Principal Tony Kane used his sabbatical break to research performing arts’ centres in schools in New Zealand, as well as those in specialist performing arts’ schools in Australia, the USA and the UK. He brought those ideas to architects McKenzie Higham and began consultation rounds with the community. A wide range of community groups from music, dance and theatre came along to discuss their needs and to express enthusiasm for the concept of a facility which would be a partnership between College and community.
The design which has emerged through many iterations in 2014-15 sets out to meet the hugely varying needs of those groups and to provide a facility which will stand the test of time for the people of Kapiti.
Main Theatre (Coastlands Theatre)
Black Box Theatre
The Kapiti Performing Arts Centre will be a 2000 square metre building. Entry will be into a large atrium. Ahead will be a ticket booth/kiosk and to the left of that, ground entry to the main Coastlands Theatre. This 330 seat auditorium will have a 9m x 12m sprung floor stage, with fly space above. This gives the Coastlands Theatre the ability to rapidly change scenery or curtain configuration. The front two rows will be removable to form an orchestra pit. For casual users, at the flick of a single switch, stage lights and sound system become active. For productions, a full lighting rig, accessible by gantry, and professional sound system, mean that it can meet the needs of any hirer.
At the far end of the atrium sits the Black Box theatre. This 200 square metre theatre is best suited to unamplified spoken voice. A gantry six metres above the sprung floor allows easy configuration of lighting and seating can by placed wherever the director pleases. Large doors allow this space to be an extension of the atrium if desired.
To the right of the atrium are classrooms and rehearsal rooms on both ground and first floor. Among these spaces is a fully equipped recording studio which can be used to record sound from any space in the complex.
The Kapiti Performing Arts Centre will be one of the most ambitious school-community partnerships undertaken in New Zealand. The fundraising committee has done a superb job in getting the project to 85% of the funding. We need the help of the entire community to get it the rest of the way across the line.
As a former member of the New Zealand String Quartet, I have performed in venues throughout New Zealand and all over the world. The Kapiti Performing Arts Centre designers will produce a theatre that will admirably suit the acoustic needs of a group like the Quartet, but have also taken into account the varying needs of a whole range of performance groups. I look forward to playing in this exciting new venue and, as a longtime resident of Kapiti, am delighted to see this project take off.Doug Beilman