Concept for Invercargill’s new museum unveiled

The first draft concept designs for Invercargill’s new museum have been revealed.

In April, Australian architects fjcstudio, together with Auckland firms Evatt Martin Architects and design Tribe, were selected to design the new building as part of Invercargill City Council’s Project 1225.

As well as a museum, Project 1225 will also deliver a museum collection storage facility and a dedicated tuatara facility in Queens Park.

The designs, released to the public on Thursday, detail spaces for the museum experience, a cafe, retail space, and education areas.

Council will receive the concept designs for final approval, as well as deciding on whether to use Te Unua Museum of Southland or Te Unua Southland Museum as the name of the new museum, at the full Council meeting on 22 August.

Invercargill City Council Group Manager Infrastructure Erin Moogan said she was blown away by the unique design of the building.
“They have delivered well above the brief. This building has the ‘wow’ factor we were looking for when we started imagining the new museum.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to get things right and they have well and truly hit the nail on the head.”

 The new Invercargill museum concept design looking north towards the Takitimu Mountains.

Both Council and the architects recognised how much having an iconic building meant to the community, and this had absolutely been created with the designs, she said.

The architects spent time exploring the region and got to know its history and environment, which has been reflected in the design of the new building, Moogan said.

The design has been guided by a cultural compass that looks to incorporate Southland’s natural features into it. The design has been influenced by the environment, which includes a natural flow from the city to the museum to the park, reflecting the waterways of Southland.

The building also faces the Takitimu mountain ranges and glass features will connect it to the park and CBD.

“The current building is very closed off from the park and lacked a connection. With play and event areas included in the design, it will ensure a free flow from building to natural spaces.”

The amphitheatre that can be used to view Southland landmarks in the daytime and the Southern Lights at night, can also be utilised as an area for performances, markets, and moonlight cinemas.

“The amphitheatre steps represent what the designers have called Tāwhaki Ascension, or the Pursuit of Higher Knowledge.”

Linking the south and north entrances of the building is a double-hulled waka, or te unua, that reflects several dualities – mana whenua and tauiwi, arts and museum, and coast and urban, Moogan said.

Inside will be plenty of exhibition space, as well as retail and café spaces, staff areas and a great focus on play.

fjcstudio Principal Head Annie Hensley said she and the team were delighted to be developing the concept for the new museum.

“Our experience to date has been incredibly inspiring, discovering the richness of culture, landscape and history in this region.

“We are very fortunate to have been offered significant stories to celebrate in the design of the building and to begin to understand the cultural landscape of Murihiku, Rakiura, Ruapuke, Motu Maha and Motu Ihupuku.”

The concept was based on Invercargill’s place in a wider regional context, which includes its relationship to the northern Takitimu Ranges, southern islands and Southern Lights, Ngā Kurakura Hinenuitepō, she said.

They had also considered regional stories shared by local rūnaka as part of the design, including Te Ara a Kiwa and the lashing together of hulls celebrating the first bicultural communities of Māori and Pākehā.

“We are grateful for the generous time given to the design team by stakeholders, Councillors, and Council officers to date, and look forward to many more conversations with the Southland community.”

 The view looking south of the new Invercargill museum concept design.

The new museum was a long-term investment that would set our future generations up for decades to come, Moogan said.

“The architects have delivered outcomes we didn’t see ourselves. That’s what makes a great design – showing things that we didn’t know we could or should do.

“We are really excited to have these designs in front of us and ready to share with the community, and we are absolutely sure this will make a great addition to Invercargill,” she said.

Councillors had already seen an early draft of the designs and given their feedback to go into this final concept design.

“They were really impressed with what they saw and believe this spectacular building will make a great addition to the city and the region.

“We are really looking forward to hearing what the community has to say about these designs.”

Council is set to endorse the design at the Council meeting on 22 August at which time the budget for Project 1225 will be confirmed and museum name will be considered.