Client: Willis Bond & Co
Project Type: Commercial
Project Timeframe: 2021 - Present
Architects: Studio Pacific Architecture
Tākina, which means to invoke, to connect and to bring forth, is Wellington’s new 18,000m 2 Convention and Exhibition Centre. It includes two primary conference plenaries and one large exhibition space, and is situated directly across the road from the New Zealand Museum, Te Papa.
Tākina sits across three primary floors. The upper floors are comprised of conference spaces with the primary room able to accommodate up to 1600 delegates. The ground floor has been designed to host international touring and home-grown exhibitions. The facility is built to a 5-Star Greenstar standard, New Zealand’s mark of excellence in building sustainability.
We were first engaged on the project as ECI contractors which allowed us to give significant input into the design and buildability. That flowed into our main contractor role for the base build, reduced the risk of any unexpected problems, and enabled us to iron out the design and sequencing for the structural steel, base isolation and façade stages.
For earthquake protection the building is secured by 32 base isolators. A rattle space allows Tākina to move 750mm in any one direction. Due to the topography of the land it sits on, the building is raised 0.8m on the Te Papa (Cable Street) side and 1.4m on the Wakefield Street side.
The construction of base isolations, the curved façade and high stud spaces presented many health and safety challenges but there were no major accidents or incidents—our health and safety procedures kept everyone safe. Tākina in fact became a benchmark of how we do construction because we prioritised whanau, culture and mental well-being. Central to this successful culture was ‘Tākina Town’, a site village we created within the building which was the heartbeat of the project.
The expansive curtain wall, curved entries, large stud heights and base isolation works all have unique features. Complex services’ plant rooms also sit throughout the building so the project required constant innovation. Installation of the 40m, 8.5-tonne roof trusses required extensive temporary works, sequencing changes and a large amount of coordination to be completed to the original construction programme. Apart from the Covid Level-4 lockdown periods that programme remained on schedule.
Early on we had agreed on a transparent tender model with the council. This resulted in a robust tender price and, despite the market’s escalation as construction progressed, the original tender numbers proved on target. Tākina remained within the council’s budget and there were no major budget escalations or variations. Working in the public spotlight, we are proud to have delivered this major civic development and a long-term enhancement to the capital.