Cultural facility progress

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Architectural drawings for Oamaru’s planned cultural facility have been presented to the public for the first time.
The facility will combine the Forrester Gallery, North Otago Museum and Waitaki District Archive at the site of the gallery, at a cost of $4.5million.
The Waitaki District Council has committed $1.5million to the project with the balance to be sourced externally.
To accommodate the project, the Forrester Gallery will be extended to take in the car park at the rear of the gallery, which will double its present size.
A series of workshops were held in late 2015 to give members of the public the opportunity to discuss the future look and feel of the cultural facility, and the feedback gained from the workshops was used to help further the project’s plans.
Forrester Gallery and North Otago Museum director Jane Macknight said 25-30 people attended the presentation at the Oamaru Opera House on Monday night, which featured a presentation from lead architect John McKenzie and a talk by Mrs Macknight on the development of the facility.
The drawings show a glassed area between the existing gallery building and the extension.
The extension is a similar height to the current gallery, but slightly deeper.
“For this project, the Forrester Gallery building remains the icon. The aim is not to eclipse that with the new building. If you look at it carefully, it’s consistent with the existing building with the style of windows and so on,” Mrs Macknight said.
“I think people overall were very positive. There were some interesting and good questions asked, which was great.”A key issue raised at the presentation was the relationship between the gallery, Humber St and the Victorian Precinct, and how it could be developed.
“While not directly part of the project, there is certainly scope to look at signage, art outside like sculptures and so on. We see that relationship as important.”Another issue raised involved access for the disabled.
As the gallery building is protected by Heritage New Zealand, a lift can’t be installed in the building. However, a lift is planned for the extension, which means the buildings have to be separated by a “glass void”.
An audit will be performed on access for the disabled in the future, which will help determine required facilities for the disabled.
Entry and exit points were also discussed, Mrs Macknight said.
“The tradition, really, is you have one entry and exit, but we are grappling with how that will work with this building. We do have a second entry, but how we will use it we’re not sure at this stage.”The release of the architectural drawings means the project is one step closer to securing external funding.
Mrs Macknight said the drawings were needed to apply for resource consents and for Heritage New Zealand requirements, while potential external funders such as possible major contributors the Lottery Grants Board, Ministry for Culture and Heritage New Zealand also needed to see them.
She thanked the public for its input and hoped for further contribution.
“It’s great to see the support we are getting from the community and we really appreciate the time the stakeholder groups are putting in. It’s crucial we get that participation.”The facility is expected to open to the public in 2019.