The Diverse And Dynamic World Of Entertainment Architecture In New Zealand

While architectural trends may come and go, the climate and social needs of every country shape the general feel and aesthetic of their buildings. Certain trends are divisive; for example, brutalism will never be everyone’s cup of tea and Art Nouveau’s flourishes are seen by many as too excessive.

New Zealand architecture
Photo by Ardiss Hutaff on Unsplash

We’re currently in a phase of glass and concrete, although natural touches have begun to creep in and inform the style. Functionality and cost-saving are central, resulting in cities full of rectangular towers.

Entertainment architecture provides a welcome alternative to this nondescript construction. Entertainment buildings need to be attractive to draw people in and can be more playful with their structures. Classic entertainment buildings – places such as museums, casinos, concert halls and theaters – were cultural hubs and their architecture reflected how important they were.

Today, entertainment venues still hold the same role and their architecture helps make city skylines more interesting. New Zealand is renowned for its scenery, and many of its modern entertainment venues reflect these natural elements. Here is a look at some of our favorite examples.

Grand Casino, Dunedin

The Grand Casino Dunedin opened almost 25 years ago, but the building it is housed in dates back to the 1880s. The building reflects the country’s cosmopolitan history. It was originally a hotel designed by Italian architect Louis Boldini. He had arrived in New Zealand during a prosperous period and ended up designing many of Dunedin’s most important buildings, including the town hall, a series of commercial buildings, and the Grand Hotel.

The interior of the casino was recently renovated and won a prize for the work. The designer, Annie Simpson-King, worked hard to maintain the decadence of the original hotel’s design while still making it modern.

Casino architecture poses many challenges and has become a highly specialized field, but online casinos can provide all of the fun of a casino without the physical constraints. Online casinos that offer live table games, however, have space and architecture considerations that add an interesting dimension to the experience.

New Zealand Maritime Museum, Auckland

As an island nation, New Zealand is known for its beaches and seafood. Auckland is home to some of the best fishing in the country, which may surprise those who only see it as a bustling port city. The New Zealand Maritime Museum tells the story of the city through its relationship with the sea.

Its latest addition is the floating extension that houses an exhibition of famous New Zealand yachts and tells the story of competitive sailing in the country. Instead of traditional walls, the exhibition hall has colored sheets of semi-opaque cladding. Coupled with a slanting form, it reflects the sea surrounding it and allows visitors inside and outside to feel like they’re a part of nature.

Hundertwasser Art Centre with Wairau Māori Art Gallery, Whangārei

The creation of the Hundertwasser Art Centre took almost 30 years due to Hundertwasser’s unfortunate death during the early stages of the project. The following three decades were full of challenges trying to realize his vision and obtain the funding to do so. The building has now been recognized with a national honor for public architecture.

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an artist, poet and architect who celebrated creativity in union with nature. This building embraces that concept. It has some similarities to the works of Gaudí, especially in its natural forms, mosaics and rejection of sharp angles. It also incorporates Māori architectural elements and a living roof.

The style won’t appeal to everyone as it is incredibly playful. Regardless of how you feel about the structure, however, the art exhibitions inside are certainly worth a visit.

Hoyts EntX, Christchurch

Just over a decade ago, the Christchurch earthquake devastated the city. Shockingly, in just a few moments, 80% of the city center had been destroyed, and the recovery process is still in progress. The earliest rebuilding efforts focused on businesses and infrastructure. Entertainment venues weren’t a high priority at first, but as the city recovered, the citizens needed them once again.

EntX brought cinema back to the city – and did it in a stunning way. The massive building has a seven-screen cinema and an internal dining area with several restaurants, bars and cafes. Since its opening, it has become an entertainment hub for the city.

The building was also designed to withstand any future seismic activity. The natural world was brought indoors through wood paneling and a traditional shiplap style of construction. The use of colored glass panels on the exterior helps to blend the building in with the sky, or when lit up from outside, like a beacon of fun.

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