Sarjeant Gallery Te Whare O Rehua Whanganui

Date: 1999

Location: Pukenamu Queens Park Whanganui

Client: Sarjeant Gallery

Project status: Design competition entry

Design: Richard Reid and Dr Des Kahotea



The Sarjeant Art Gallery is one of New Zealand's finest buildings, renowned for its beautifully proportioned architecture and naturally lit gallery spaces. It was built in 1912 and is listed as a Category One Historic Place.


The gallery required a significant increase in exhibition, storage and administration facilities in order to capitalise on its value as a regional arts centre. The additional space needed to respect the outstanding design qualities of the classically inspired building.


Our competition entry was a rumination on ‘place’ and 'extension'. Extension implies space is drawn out from somewhere towards somewhere else. One place is taken leave of and movement is made towards an other.


We embraced this notion of the other and invited the city join with a Maori dimension of place and region. The gallery is on the crest of a hill known as Pukenamu, the site of a Pa. The Pa became the theme of the Extension because of the tapu associated with such sites, and acknowledge-ment of its past use was absorbed into the design.


The key Maori elements are the marae atea, orientation to Mt Ruapehu and Whanganui River, the separation of activity, movement of viewers, and the idea of storage of important items, the collection. The procession from one building to the other is based upon the rhythm and proportions of the existing gallery meeting the natural lie of the land. Ramps, stairs and lifts are used to enhance the landscape experience within.


The space of the junction between new and old / Maori and Pakeha turns upon a void and carved pou aligned with the main axis of Maria Place. These guide movement off the city grid, grounding people on the marae atea with connections to the maunga and river.




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