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Innovative new sporting facility

A new multi-purpose all-weather sports and recreation facility for Christchurch’s eastern suburbs has arisen in Rāwhiti Domain



Engaging Creative Intentions to design, plan and manage the development, Eastern Community Sports and Recreation (ECSR) has built a high-tensile fabric canopy over the domain’s previously under-used tennis courts, which will open in September.

Using an innovative building system from Canadian company Sprung, which comprises a tensioned membrane fabric fixed to large aluminium beams to create the 60m x 36m canopy, the facility offers many opportunities for the 11 sports clubs and community organisations that sit under ECSR’s umbrella.

Tennis and netball clubs will use the new facility as soon as possible; rugby, cricket, athletics and softball clubs will also take advantage, and it will be available for community use, from trade shows, to concerts and yoga classes.

ECSR is one of several sport club partnerships throughout New Zealand, created to make it easier for sports and recreation organisations to operate effectively.

Canopy construction began prior to lockdown in mid-March, was suspended during lockdown levels 3 and 4, and was completed early July.

It was quick to build, providing ECSR with excellent efficiency compared to what would otherwise have been a cost-prohibitive conventional structure.

Project funding has included grants from the Rātā Foundation, the Lotteries Communities Facilities Fund, New Zealand Community Trust and Christchurch City Council’s Capital Endowment Fund grant.

Sprung is a 123-year-old family company that initially began making tents and covered wagons.

Since diversifying into permanent structures, it has constructed approximately 12,500 buildings in over 130 countries.

ECSR’s Rāwhiti Domain canopy is New Zealand’s first Sprung structure.

The architecture of transportation hubs: WSP Architecture

It’s never been so important to attract and entertain visitors in our New Zealand towns and cities.

By Matt Sloper, Architect at WSP Architecture

A common problem faced by visitors and locals alike is access to transportation infrastructure.

Nationwide, councils are now looking to explore infrastructure developments designed to transform town centres, eliminating congestion issues, improving accessibility, providing new public amenity spaces and enhancing the visitor experience.

The key design driver for a transportation hub is a strong urban focus, resulting in high quality solutions that sit sympathetically within the urban context, address the surrounding street frontages, are inviting and safe, allow easy permeability through the site, provide added community amenity, and are well integrated with the surrounding neighbourhood.

Where natural beauty surrounds the sites; an appropriate design response is for the built insertions to be complementary with, but subservient to, the broader natural environment.

Texture, light, shade, materiality and colour are carefully considered to give the exteriors a sculptural quality, and one which adds interest whilst also reducing the overall visual impact.

These hubs service mixed transportation modes, including built-in capacity to accommodate greater numbers of electric vehicles in future.

Transportation hubs should embody connections with local culture and history, creating a distinctly local flavour that speaks of its place and reinforces the destination’s reputation as a meeting place and social and economic centre.

Although responding to a pragmatic functional need they make a positive contribution to the character and quality of New Zealand towns and cities for all to enjoy.