The $5.33 million Waihinga Centre was eight years in the making. PHOTO/ANDY SPAIN

$5.3 million centre a ‘huge endeavour’

GIANINA SCHWANECKE
gianina.schwanecke@age.co.nz

Martinborough’s new multipurpose Waihinga Centre was on Wednesday night named one of five Public Architecture winners at this year’s Wellington Architecture Awards.

The centre was recognised in its category alongside the Hutt City Events Centre, Kumutoto Pavilion along Wellington’s waterfront, the Naenae Regional Bowling Club and Te Papa’s Art Gallery Renewal — Toi Art.

Designed by Warren and Mahoney Architects, the Waihinga Centre combines the restored historic town hall, with a modern extension incorporating the Martinborough Library, i-SITE, toy library, Plunket and Knucklebone café.

In their entry form, the architects described the new facility as representing a “contemporary design response to the rural vernacular”.

The judges panel called the design a “bold new vision”.

“The original town hall strengthening provided the impetus for this project in which a small piece of brick heritage has been refurbished in a bold and confident way.

The multipurpose community hub combines the restored historic town hall, with a modern extension incorporating the Martinborough Library, i-SITE, toy library, Plunket and Knucklebone cafe. PHOTO/ANDY SPAIN

“The community centre is the realisation of a bold new vision that brings its two constituent parts together in a warm embrace,” the judges said.

The original Martinborough town hall was built in 1912 and had served the community for around 100 years, when residents came together to discuss the development of a multifunctional community space.

The $5.332 million project was a collaboration between the South Wairarapa District Council and the Waihinga Charitable Trust, lasting over eight years.

Waihinga Charitable Trust chairman Max Stevens said it had a been “a long journey”, leading to a “fantastic result”.

South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said it was an honour just to have been nominated as a finalist and was thrilled with the win.

“Warren and Mahoney’s vision for how it links into the community has been incredible.

“It’s very impressive when you go inside.”

Council acting chief executive Jennie Mitchell said the project had proved “controversial”, with Greytown and Featherston residents questioning such a large project being undertaken in Martinborough.

“We do see it benefits the community though,” she said.

“We are getting lots and lots of compliments about the Waihinga Centre.”

She thanked community members for their support in fundraising for the centre, with $2.3 million of the $5.33 million total spend having come from community grants and donations.

“It’s been one of the biggest individual projects that the council has embarked on. It was a huge endeavour.”

The Waihinga Charitable Trust has entered stage two of the development and is raising funds for the addition of a destination children’s playground.