Archives New Zealand – Te Rua Mahara o te Kāwanatanga and the National Library of New Zealand are building a $290m national archives facility in Wellington, expected to open in 2026.
It will house the country's archival collections, including government records, publications, books, manuscripts, artwork, scientific data, images and films.
RCP has been engaged to provide management services across design and delivery phases for the project, which will also feature seminar and meeting rooms, secure loading and quarantine areas, state-of-the-art repositories and shelving, audio-visual and film suites, and conservation and digitisation facilities.
The facility will be located on the site that formerly held Defence House, which was demolished after the 7.8-magnitude Kaikōura earthquake of 2016. The building will be one of the most seismically resilient in Aotearoa, with base isolation allowing the building to remain safe and fully operational after a major earthquake. The building is targeting a 5 Green Star rating and will have one of the highest performing façades in the country, minimising the energy required to maintain repository conditions and ensuring collections remain protected even if power is lost to the building.
The interior will be designed to incorporate the most modern facilities for conservation and care of such important records, but perhaps the most important feature is for the public to have greater access to view the wide range of taonga within the facility.
The construction phase commenced in early 2022 and a strong focus has been placed on minimising the disruption to surrounding sites, including limiting noise disruption.
Effective stakeholder management is critical due to the specialist activities and precious taonga housed within the building, the critical operational requirements and the number of stakeholders involved. Communication has been key. The project has employed a co-design process with mana whenua to drive more integrated design development. The engagement with iwi has been twofold: first, to reflect cultural narratives within the design and, second, as this relates to the building's inherent function.
Together, Archives New Zealand and the National Library of New Zealand hold irreplaceable taonga for the nation. The new facility with provide a highly modern, culturally sensitive and fitting home for such an important collection.