A provision of funding via the government’s ‘shovel ready’ initiative has given the green light to a major redevelopment of the YMCA’s Ōtautahi Christchurch city centre site. The master plan for the site by Architectus called for a multi-staged development process enabling the YMCA to continue operating while the four stages are being implemented. The four stages involve the refurbishment of the existing accommodation building; a new building to replace existing functions and incorporate new ones; the demolition of YMCA’s existing Stadium building; and the construction of a new carpark.
Stage 1 of the project, developed by the YMCA and supported by Architectus, is the transformation of the former accommodation building into the new Hotel Give, New Zealand’s first socially sustainable hotel, which was officially re-opened by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, in early August 2021. All profits from the YMCA-run hotel are reinvested into the organisation’s programmes and services, to support better outcomes for young people and vulnerable members of the community.
Stage 2 is a new dedicated building for YMCA’s community-based activities, which will accommodate a black-box theatre, preschool, health and wellbeing spaces, education facilities for young people, dance and movement studios, and a range of support tenants, including general medical practice and physiotherapy. The design creates a new front door for the YMCA on Rolleston Avenue across from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens, by activating a central courtyard between Hotel Give and the new building, thereby forming a central heart of the YMCA redevelopment.
The diverse range of functions reflects the cross section of the community, welcoming people of all ages, while social spaces woven throughout the building are intended to promote interaction. A projecting glass façade frames views from the fitness centre and dance studios to the Botanic Gardens, while the new Papa Hou theatre occupies the entire east side of the building with the pre-school below at ground level opening up to dedicated outdoor space. The exterior design draws inspiration from and reinterprets the rich materials and textures evident in the Arts Centre, Canterbury Museum and other nearby heritage buildings.
In partnership with Matapopore Charitable Trust, a multi-layered and intricate cultural design strategy has been developed to guide the integration of cultural values and narratives into the heart of the development, helping to nurture and shape youth into confident, grounded people with a strong sense of identity.
Key principles from the Core Green Building Certification, developed by the International Living Future Institute, were used as a framework to guide the sustainability strategy for the project. Health and wellbeing and energy performance, were two key areas of focus. The design provides the diverse range of uses in the building with access to natural light, fresh air via active and passive natural ventilation systems, low impact building materials and HVAC systems that minimise energy and operating costs.
The building will be a cross-cultural and cross-generational, vibrant new home for the community in the heart of Ōtautahi Christchurch.