Much-debated Shed 6 development takes shape

KATIE CHAPMAN
Last updated 05:00 15/02/2013
Wellington's Shed 6 under development
CHRIS SKELTON/Fairfax NZ
VERSATILITY-PLUS: Glenys Coughlan, chief executive of Positively Wellington Venues, and Roger Shand, of architectural firm Shand Shelton, inside Shed 6.
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Wellington's newest concert and conference venue should be open by August.

Work on a $6.9 million project to earthquake strengthen Shed 6 and TSB Bank Arena and convert the shed into a conference and event centre has begun.

Last year, Wellington City Council allocated ratepayers' money to the project, to act as a replacement venue while the Town Hall is out of commission for earthquake strengthening.

The approval process was fraught, after the original $4m budget became $6.9m as it was discovered the buildings also needed earthquake strengthening. The council then dropped the project, only to reinstate it at a final vote about seven months after the proposal was first raised.

New artist's impressions of the project show how the 740-square-metre shed will look. It will include retractable walls to create up to four different areas inside the shed and the old Plimmers Ark gallery will also be turned into an arcade linking Shed 6 and TSB Bank Arena.

Work is already under way on earthquake strengthening of the wharf's piles, and the two buildings will also have a "seismic cut" done so they would move separately in an earthquake.

The project is due to be finished in August, when the Town Hall is due to close.

The shed will have retractable grandstand seating for concerts, and maximum standing room for a performance will be 1050.

Positively Wellington Venues chief executive Glenys Coughlan said the aim was to make the site as versatile as possible, on a limited budget. "What we've tried to do within the shed is create as much flexibility as possible in terms of the way the room can be set up."

The result meant there would be little difference between the capacity of the new venue, and of the Town Hall.

The council-controlled venues company had argued that the replacement venue was essential to allow Wellington to continue to compete in the lucrative conference market. To not have the venue could have meant an annual $9m economic loss to the capital.

The venue would also be able to stay open once the Town Hall was back on board, to test whether there was enough business to maintain another venue in Wellington, she said. "This will be a very good test."

Project architect Roger Shand said the main challenge was making the space as functional as possible on a limited budget. "There are certainly no embellishments beyond the basics."

But the result would be impressive, he said. "From an old shed attached to a sports centre you get a completely new complex."

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- The Dominion Post

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