Te Kaha – Canterbury Multi-Use Arena

February 17, 2022

The $473m Canterbury Multi-Use Arena (CMUA), now named “Te Kaha” is a bookend to the Canterbury rebuild. It is the last of the anchor projects identified in the Blueprint, and one that RCP has had firmly in its sights since its inception.

RCP has rich experience of stadia projects: it worked on Eden Park’s redevelopment ahead of the 2011 Rugby World Cup; oversaw the Northland Events Centre development; supervised Plymouth’s Yarrow Stadium rebuild; project managed the Temporary Stadium in Addington (now Orangetheory Stadium); and advised on the Hadlee Pavilion and Hagley Oval development.

And it’s a sandpit that the firm wants to keep playing in.

“We want to remain at the forefront of stadium projects,” says James Peacock. “Stadiums are a place of excitement; they’re where people go to celebrate.”

It is also an opportunity for RCP to put something significant back into the CBD after taking away so much as part of the demolition work.

Christchurch City Council appointed RCP to provide services including project and design management, and contract administration of the pre-contract services agreement.

The project is non-traditional in the sense that it is a budget-led design process, says James. The aim for the end of the preconstruction services phase is to have an agreed brief that reflects the look and feel of the stadium in line with the budget and programme.

“We’re prepared to modify the brief to suit the budget to ensure we deliver the project at an affordable level while also realising all of the benefits,” says James. “We’re fortunate to have the operator, Venues Ōtautahi, on board. If we are making a decision that could affect operations, they can have a voice.”

As a multi-use venue, the Arena will be more than just a sporting destination; it will also host concerts and performances for which there is currently no suitable space in the city. With a maximum capacity of 35,000 in concert mode and 25,000 in stadium mode, the CMUA will be well-placed to provide a ‘big stadium’ experience; there will also be in-built flexibility to provide an intimate yet dynamic space for smaller performances for 15,000.

“It will put Christchurch on the map and attract people from all over the country,” says James. “It will have a big economic impact on the city, which has been doing it tough for a long time.”

“It will put Christchurch on the map and attract people from all over the country.” _ James Peacock

To create the best impact for the Canterbury region, the team is focused on fostering local rather than international or national delivery of the project. And it’s a space that RCP can add considerable value.

“RCP has a deep understanding of the contractor and subcontractor network in Christchurch,” says James. “Our team can help by identifying local talent and making introductions to BESIX Watpac, which isn’t known to the local market.”

Australian firm BESIX Watpac has been engaged to lead the Kōtui Consortium that will carry out the design and build of the Arena.

Covered stadiums with real grass are a rare sight worldwide. Dunedin has one of the few, Forsyth Barr. One of the challenges facing the CMUA design team is determining how much natural light is required to make the turf grow.

“So the roof, or a portion of it, needs to be transparent,” says James. “At the same time we want to accommodate concerts and manage noise pollution. It’s a fine balance.”

By the end of July, the team expects to have issued a concept design report, which will pave the way for the next phase, preliminary design. By the end of the year the developed design, project cost and programme should be confirmed, allowing construction to begin in the second quarter of 2022.