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The Marines Hall in Titahi Bay has stood at the heart of the community for over 75 years and has a special place in the memories of local whānau.
Many aspects of the commemorative landscape community space are designed with the history of the Hall behind it. The full design rationale is below.
While work is being undertaken at the site, we are also taking the opportunity to replace the toilet facilities.
There are some aspects of the space that could change, including:
Tree grove - there are fruit trees at the library end of the space. An additional grove of trees, near the fruit trees are part of the proposed plan.
Seating - the bench seats are also lantern boxes, lit from within, with patterns cut in the side. They are placed for casual seating in a theatre-like style.
Outdoor theatre space - at the shopping area end, the outline of the original walls and roof are conveyed through a simple steel structure, which forms an entrance to the new space. The frame can hold a screen providing opportunity for outdoor movies.
The opportunity to provide feedback closed on 27 July.
The commemorative landscape plan recognises that the removal of the Marines Hall will also remove a memento of times spent in that building watching movies and performances. Therefore, the design evokes the halls presence and volume, as well extending its role as a cinema and theatre.
At the entrance end of the hall, the outline of the original walls and roof are conveyed through a simple steel structure. This also forms an entrance to a new park from the existing shops, extending the existing gathering space while transitioning into a pocket-park like setting.
Part way along the hall’s footprint, canopy structures extend up from both sides, again evoking the volume of the missing building, while providing amenity to the new plaza. Overhead, light passing through the cut steel shade structure projects patterns onto the ground – reminiscent of projections from the sites past as a cinema.
At the more open end of the hall, facing the reserve, the corners of the building are suggested through posts the same height as the original walls, while a central post is the height of the missing roof.
The bench seats are also ‘lantern boxes’, lit from within, with patterns cut in the sides. These are arranged to form casual seating most of the time, but they also face the steel frame closest to the shops, which has attachments for a screen, allowing outdoor movies or performance.
On the ground plane, hard and soft landscape treatments overlap and extend past the original building footprint, integrating the commemorative landscape into the existing reserve, emphasised by the extension of a grove of trees into the space, within the halls’ original footprint.
Outdoor all-weather carpet was chosen as a ground surface treatment to allow people to lounge in a way that is reminiscent of being within a building but is in the commemorative garden. Compactable gravel is proposed nearby, reducing the overall amount of concrete and helping to integrate the built forms and trees with the surrounding landscape.
The Marines Hall was built in Titahi Bay during World War II (1943, to be precise) as a recreation hall for the 1500 US Marines stationed in the area. The building was used for its original purpose for less than a year before the Marines returned home.
The building became a local government asset in 1954 and was used as a place for the community to meet and celebrate. In 1976 Porirua Little Theatre occupied the building and called this building home until 2012.
In 2012 the hall was deemed structurally unsafe and was closed. A year later the building was also deemed at earthquake risk. Porirua City Council voted in 2018 that consent be sought for it to be demolished.
Several groups looked into securing funding to restore the hall, but the building work required was too extensive. To restore the building, would require (as of 2018) $2 million.
Porirua City Council submitted a resource consent application to demolish the Marines Hall and two independent commissioners granted the consent in February 2021 following hearings late in 2020.
The historical value of the Marines Hall building is acknowledged by Council and we don’t want to lose the essence of this value if it is to be demolished. To capture the significance, we will also be engaging a heritage consultant to log the artifacts and attributes of the building and this will be made publicly available for years to come.