MJMA was sought out by a design team in Christchurch, New Zealand, to help spearhead a new sports facility. Part of the city’s redevelopment program following the 2011 earthquake, the Facility brings a wide range of amenities to a recently rezoned mixed-use area still evolving from light industry into a more diverse fabric of offices and retail—one that is expected to continue attracting an influx of residential occupants.
The facility aims to meet the daily recreation, education, and high-performance sporting needs of local users; to host national and international events (providing young athletes with a clearer path toward future participation in elite-level athletics); and to create a dynamic social hub capable of regular event overlays. Additional practical requirements include high operational efficiency, support for pedestrian and cyclist access, and low-impact vehicle access and parking.
When complete, the facility’s 342,300-square-foot program will comprise an aquatics hall with a ten-lane, 79-metre competition pool, seating for 1,000 spectators, and a leisure area with hot pools and waterslides that snake in and out of the façade, as well as nine indoor sports courts with total seating for 2,500 spectators, a dedicated base for High Performance Sport New Zealand, a gym and fitness centre, and a café, among other amenities and support spaces.
This program is organized into the form of an H, with two bar-shaped volumes that run north–south joined by a central hub. This configuration orients the events court and leisure pools to the north for maximum sunlight, while the central hub is set aside as a social space visually connected to all areas of the facility. The H-layout also creates sheltered arrival courts to the north and south. Working in collaboration with Māori tribal advisors, the team has ensured that the concept design responds to Matapopore’s traditional principles for safeguarding natural resources and upholding local Indigenous cultural values.
Landscaping plays an important part in the sustainability measures on the site, a former parking lot; parking and other hardscaping is broken up, while stormwater is managed through rain gardens, swales, and permeable surfaces that together help retain and clean water for re-use on site.
When completed in 2022, the facility will bring new amenities of exceptional quality to its dynamically evolving neighbourhood, representing the wider community’s vision for a livable city with a distinctive character.