New facility gives region heart

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A distinctive new facility — joining two buildings at the hip and with a Waka at its heart — has become a treasured gathering place for the Horowhenua community.

Te Takere, winner of the restoration, value $2 million to $5 million category, and recipient of a silver award along with a special project award from the judges at this year’s New Zealand Commercial Project Awards, started as a library upgrade and extension but soon became much more.

With the initial brief to extend and upgrade the existing Horowhenua Library by incorporating an adjoining empty supermarket, it became obvious at the design stage that the huge space offered more opportunities.

The client, the Horowhenua District Council, had the vision to broaden the scope to create a library and multi-purpose community centre in one.

Led by Crowe Construction and Associates Ltd, the project team consisted of architect and designer Designgroup Stapleton Elliot, engineer Kevin O’Connor and Associates Ltd and quantity surveyor Rider Levett Bucknall.

Architect Mike Evans designed a building with a Waka (according to Te Takere chief executive Jo Ransom) literally “exploding from its heart”. Incorporated into the exterior and the interior design of the building, the Waka uses paneling to provide spaces that are light and airy, apart yet integrated, allowing room for groups as well as privacy for individuals when required.

Project lead Ross Crowe says the construction of Te Takere was a challenging but hugely rewarding process.

“Budgets were tight but there was a universal desire to create a high quality and special space that would draw in the community and have many uses and functions.

“Materials such as wood and copper wire were carefully stripped out of the existing structures and shipped to the recyclers to raise funds for the project. Existing block bricks, tongue and groove flooring and other elements were restored and upcycled — all this while the hoarded up library remained open,” Mr Crowe says.

Te Takere — short for Te Takeretanga o Kurahaupo, meaning a place where knowledge is sought, maintained and dispersed — includes a library, meeting rooms, visitor information centre, computer rooms, exhibition space, a youth centre, cafe and more.

The project was completed and Te Takere opened in September 2012, one year after work began.

Already returning funds to the council, Te Takere has hosted many public and private events. It has also filled the gap of museum and gallery space, with Taonga on loan from Te Papa displayed in purpose-built cabinets alongside local pottery and artworks.

Mr Crowe says the idea was to create a hub for the wider Horowhenua community and visitors, and this has been achieved.

“Te Takere has become the heart and soul of the community, and we’re delighted about that. Its design has resulted in a friendly and welcoming space that the region has embraced. It’s an amazing place.”

Fast Facts

Project: Te Takere — restoration, addition and alteration of an existing library and supermarket to create a new library and community centre in one.

Construction Team: Crowe Construction, Designgroup Stapleton Elliot, Kevin O’Connor and Associates Ltd, Rider Levett Bucknall.

Client: Horowhenua District Council.

Budget: Under $4 million.