Auckland's newest venue for the performing arts, Q, has just opened at 305 Queen Street. Here our Director…
Q Theatre is an urban theatre containing 450 and 120 seat flexible format performance spaces, a rehearsal space, bar and café. The initiative for the theatre came after the Watershed Theatre on Auckland’s Viaduct Basin was closed in 1996 to make way for the America’s Cup redevelopment. The replacement became a 15 year long project promoted by the New Theatre Initiative culminating in the new theatre complex. The project endured a number of funding and political setbacks until construction in late 2009.
Q is situated in a sensitive heritage precinct in Auckland City, neighbouring the heritage listed Auckland Town Hall and opening to Queen Street, the city’s main street. Q is composed of two components: A 1920’s building constructed as ‘The No Deposit Piano Building’ (W.A. Holman & L.V. Moses, 1928) and refitted to house the lobby, dressing rooms, rehearsal and small performance space while a new purpose built auditorium includes administration and truck dock facilities and makes use of a portal of the old City Council Garage (Grierson Aimer & Draffin, 1928) to form a presence on Greys Avenue.
The auditorium design breaks the acoustically closed volume of the enclosure into three layers reflecting the ordering of the adjacent Town Hall façade. The grey exposed aggregate base houses the relocated Town Hall Green Room, a glazed mid section contains back of the house, administration and truck docks and the upper section, the auditorium.
The flat floor of both performance spaces allows seating rostra to be arranged to suit a wide range of configurations including long and short traverse, thrust, in the round and end stage. The main auditorium has four lighting bridges and two stories of galleries around three sides. The lower galleries may be lifted out of the way to form higher side stages and to suit end stage configuration.
The design breaks the scale of the precast panels on the exterior of the auditorium so that the wall is seen as a textured composition of small elements, much as the rears of the Queen Street buildings next door are seen. The pattern of the panels is based on a tessellation known as a golygon, though manipulated somewhat to suit the requirements of panel layout and pre casting.