Christchurch’s $533m stadium redesign ‘lacks green credentials’

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Some councilors are concerned about what they believe is a lack of sustainability in the design of Te Kaha, Christchurch's new stadium.

Christchurch City Council

Some councilors are concerned about what they believe is a lack of sustainability in the design of Te Kaha, Christchurch’s new stadium.

The design of Christchurch’s new $533million stadium, Te Kaha, has been heavily criticized by some councilors for what they say is a lack of environmental sustainability.

Christchurch City Council approved the stadium’s preliminary design on Thursday, allowing work to continue on a more detailed design.

Three councilors – Mike Davidson, Celeste Donovan and Sara Templeton – voted against the design and three others – Yani Johanson, Melanie Coker and Pauline Cotter – abstained in the vote.

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Christchurch City Council approved plans for a 30,000 seater stadium after councilors bowed to public pressure. (Video first posted August 2021).

Davidson said the board had been clear that durability should be a central part of the arena’s design, but instead it had become a “nice to have” and the design was “a stadium of the 20th century as usual with few high-tech choices”.

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“What we are looking for is a 21st century stadium, a green stadium designed with the climate crisis in mind.”

Davidson was also concerned about escalating installation costs, as were Coker and Cotter.

The new stadium is being built in the city center and is bordered by Madras, Hereford, Barbadoes and Tuam streets. It is scheduled to open in June 2025 and ground improvements are expected to begin in March.

Departing project manager Alistair Pearson said sustainability was a key objective of the project.

But the stadium is built with a steel frame, concrete bleachers for seats and a plastic roof, following stadium design principles used around the world.

Donovan, who was elected to the council in October following a by-election in the coastal district, said the city deserved “a unique, world-leading design” and “not a replica of other stadiums in the country”.

Newly elected councilwoman Celeste Donovan criticized the design of the stadium.

JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Stuff

Newly elected councilwoman Celeste Donovan criticized the design of the stadium.

She urged her colleagues to remove the policy from the decision and consider whether the design was fit for purpose.

“There is a strong temptation to make short-term politically popular decisions without considering the longer-term implications.”

Donovan said the council needed to build for the future, and that included focusing on sustainability and reducing carbon emissions.

A decision to add solar panels at a later time suggested the designers were “lip service” to something that should be a core design principle, she said.

The new stadium in Christchurch will be able to accommodate up to 30,000 people.

Provided

The new stadium in Christchurch will be able to accommodate up to 30,000 people.

Johanson reiterated his earlier beliefs that the stadium should have been built at Lancaster Park, while acknowledging that the council was past discussing the location.

He hoped that sustainability aspects could be carried over into the detailed design.

Cr Sam MacDonald said the preliminary design approval was a milestone and it would be devastating if the board put another hurdle in development.

“What the public has said over and over again, they just want it built now.”

Cr Anne Galloway said the project needed to keep moving forward because it was a time when the community needed hope and things to look forward to.

The council decided last August to build a 30,000-seater stadium, revoking a resolution taken a month earlier to build the 25,000-seater stadium.

July’s decision caused an outcry from residents and the business community and led to half the council changing its votes to support a larger stadium.

Templeton was the only adviser against his expansion.

The larger stadium will cost an additional $50 million, bringing the total budget to $533 million.

Barry Bragg, the stadium project’s independent chairman, said earlier this week that supply chain issues, escalating material costs and the cost and availability of workers remained “very high risks”.

The council also decided on Thursday to approve the name Te Kaha for the stadium, donated by Ngāi Tūāhuriri, which means “strength”.

It is an abbreviated version of Te Kaharoa that has been given as the name for the enclosure that surrounds it.

A consortium of local and international companies, named Kōtui, designs and builds the stadium.

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