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The Salvation Army Christchurch City Worship and Community Centre

July 2018

The Salvation Army Christchurch City Worship and Community Centre is at last a place the City Corps can call home.

The project initially commenced in 2007, after the Salvation Army outgrew its former Durham Street building. They had purchased their ideal block of land on the corner of Colombo and Salisbury Streets, and engaged Dalman Architect’s to complete the design. After a number of hurdles, the building was finally completed in 2017.

Shortly before the lodging of building consent, the Christchurch earthquakes put a halt to progress. With the land located in the central city cordon being inaccessible, demolition of the existing buildings was delayed. Immediately after the earthquakes the building code seismic standards were changed which resulted in higher engineering requirements increasing building costs. Consequently, elements of the building had to be redesigned.

When the project initially began, Dalman Architects were asked to create a spiritual facility for the Corps that was to be a permanent home for the congregation and that centralised the Salvation Army’s Christchurch based functions. The building needed to meet the functional needs of a contemporary church while remaining welcoming to its greater community.

When asked what the most compelling symbol of their Christian faith was, not surprisingly, the Salvation Army said, ‘the cross’. Conceptually, a cross has been laid down on the site. People enter through the main axis of the cross which forms a gallery and the key circulation path through the building. The building spaces are then positioned around the cross. A 350-capacity worship hall takes a prominent position on the Colombo and Salisbury Streets corner. On the other sides are the offices and multi-purpose meeting and function rooms, a three-quarter size basketball court / general hall with a large commercial kitchen attached, and a sunny outdoor courtyard sheltered from the easterly - ‘prevailing winds’.

A floor to ceiling glazed cross is positioned on the Salisbury Street side of the worship hall. It proudly announces the building’s spiritual function and is lit up with colour changing LED lights at night. To Colombo Street, the double-height worship space forms a ‘portal’, conceptually welcoming people to the world of Christ. Guiding people on their journey are eleven tall vertical concrete fins representing the eleven key beliefs of the Salvation Army - The Articles of War or Faith.

On each side of the worship hall double height verandah’s offer the spiritual concept of giving shelter. The verandah’s are supported by twelve tall steel pilotis representing God’s disciples.

The building is clad in a varied palette of standing seam steel, terracotta tiles, glass and natural timber. The natural materials follow the truthful down-to-earth nature of the Salvation Army beliefs and community services, and complement the surrounding residential and commercial buildings. While some materials and design elements of the building were altered after the earthquakes to meet the revised structural design, the key conceptual ideas remain.

One of the key products in the design was Espan® 470, selected for its trough and rib design to be used for cladding. The system enabled the cladding to be fixed with concealed fixing clips, leaving the flat-pan free of nail heads and joins. More importantly, the lightweight system meant deeper foundations were not required to carry the weight of similar heavier products, reducing building costs.

The Colorsteel® finish of the Espan® 470 provided the Salvation Army with a low maintenance, and durable finish.

Critical to the design of the building was the acoustic performance of the spaces. Many of hte function and multi-purpose meeting rooms can be in use at the same time. Feeback has been excellent. Testament to this, the New Zealand Army Band recorded their latest album in the Worship Hall, describing it as a great place to play.

The Salvation Army Christchurch City Worship and Community Centre was fully funded by the Salvation Army and the congregation, with no public fundraising campaigns, and was completed under budget.

The finished design sits well within the local community environment, and provides a practical and functional solution for the Salvation Army and their many community group users. It is a building that is well utilised, and one the Salvation Army Christchurch City Corp are proud to share.