New cinema and dining complex revitalises the Christchuch CBD

Christchurch’s new block-wide EntX Entertainment Centre offers an immersive dining and movie-going experience while responding to the near environment and the wider Canterbury setting

Heightened expectations – the raised corner of Christchurch’s architecture, building, city, commercial building, downtown, metropolis, metropolitan area, mixed use, residential area, sky, structure
Heightened expectations – the raised corner of Christchurch’s new EntX Entertainment Central optimises views into the Canterbury nature-themed hospitality hub, including the soaring three-level atrium.

The decimating 2010 and 2011 Christchurch earthquakes changed the face of the garden city forever, including the face of cinema. Now the new EntX Entertainment Central multi-cinema and dining complex, developed and owned by Calder Stewart and designed by Ignite Architects, offers a truly eye-catching replacement to what has gone before.

Having heard that Hoyts was looking to create a flagship venue in the CBD, Calder Stewart approached the cinema chain with a potential site, says project director Mark Weaver.

“Several factors recommended the Colombo Street site,” says Weaver. “The old Hoyts cinemas had been slightly remote in terms of access, while the new venue is in the heart of the CBD. Plus, it’s supported by three near-by parking buildings and is across the road from the Central Bus Exchange.”

Most of all, the developer felt the city needed a vibrant new entertainment hub right at its heart.

“To achieve commercial cost-effectiveness, we also researched ways to fill the building that would complement the cinema offering, ultimately deciding to go up a level and include a hospitality hub.”

The soaring three-level atrium in the new EntX interior design, lobby, restaurant, brown
The soaring three-level atrium in the new EntX Entertainment Central provides a dramatic entry into the nature-themed hospitality hub.

However, before construction could begin, issues of land contamination had to be addressed and then the land had to be strengthened. The latter was achieved by introducing 1000 stone columns to increase the density and bearing of the soil.

The block-length building is comprised of two quite distinct halves. To meet exacting acoustic requirements, the cinemas are constructed as concrete boxes – the solid form of construction helping to anchor the building. The precast concrete facade panels are textured for visual interest.

The conjoined eastern half of the building – the high atrium and dining precinct – is by contrast a lightweight steel structure. Because of the length of the building, it is split into two in the middle with a big seismic joint that runs east to west – if there’s another seismic event, the building will move at that point, minimising wider damage and risk.

Project leader for Ignite, associate Jamie Irvine says the exterior of this side of the EntX complex responds to its immediate and wider surroundings.

“While the cinema component is boldly faced in concrete, the dining/atrium side of the building features vertical, variously toned strip cladding interspersed with vertical, slender glazing,” says Irvine. 

“This facade evokes the Canterbury Plains’ colours – the patchwork quilt seen from above – and the slender strips also call to mind the poplar tree wind belts seen on the plains.”

In addition, the distinctive metal cladding meets the street-level glazing in a zigzagging line, calling to mind the mighty peaks of the Southern Alps.

“In more immediate terms, the uplifted corner of the building responds to the articulated architectural features of the adjacent Central Bus Exchange.”

A sightline runs right through the food concourse interior design, restaurant, black, brown
A sightline runs right through the food concourse at EntX Entertainment Central, designed by Ignite Architects.

Inside, references to the Canterbury countryside continue with a multifaceted fit-out sectioned into zones that evoke different forests and seasons.

From high-profile archway entry points in the red Hoyts livery, diners and cinema patrons move through the triple-height atrium and concourse that starts with an open ‘glade’ aesthetic and continues to a more enclosed ‘grove’ feel deeper in the building.

Feature chandeliers, floor motifs, strip battens, full-height columns echoing tree trunks, colour-changing hanging canopies, transparent etched screens and floor stencils all contribute to the natural theme. There are even planters with real plants that will grown into the design over time. All this adds up to an immersive, entertaining environment to rival the movies screening above – essentially the concourse offers a green retreat in the inner city.

In acknowledgement of the past, elements such as recycled brick and heritage timbers were also incorporated into various aspects of the design.

Phones off, lights down, popcorn open and the auditorium, flooring, function hall, interior design, black, brown
Phones off, lights down, popcorn open and the Lux cinema on the top floor of the new EntX Entertainment Central is ready to entertain you. The Hoyts fit-out was by CMP Construction.

Stair connectors to the cinemas are in high prominence and the upper levels of the cinema floors look down over the concourse atrium.

The cinemas in the concrete component are over three levels, with the cinema lobby located across on the hospitality side of the building, on the first floor. The luxurious Lux lounge and cinemas are on the top floor. Some of the state-of-the art cinemas include the highest quality sound systems in New Zealand and extra large screens.

Credit list

EntX Entertainment Central, Christchurch
Ignite Architects – Gerry Tyrell, design architect; Jamie Irvine, project architect
Construction company
Calder Stewart
Facade engineer
Lautec Façade Engineers
Mechanical and electrical engineer
AMT Mechanical
Acoustic engineer
Marshall Day
Urban design
Urbis Group
Mega 5 Colorcoat steel profiled roofing from Graham Hill Roofing
Pacific Doors, Knobs & Knockers
Kymira engineered stone by Wright Marble
Graham Herbert wallpaper; living wall, by Outside In; Laminex; cinema accoustic surfaces, John Herber; timber panelling by VidaSpace
Custom cinema wall systems
Forman Building SystemsPaints:Dulux; Resene
Ceiling panels
Forman Building Systems; CHH Woodpanels; Xpressclad by Pacific Build Supplies; Asona; Studco
Timber slatting, Alucobond; Xpressclad by Pacific Build Supplies; VidaSpace Decorative Timber Paneling
Feature lighting
Large hanging decorative 3,000 leaf pendant in the main glade area by Yellow Goat; slotted light columns by Canterbury Metalwork
Public area furniture
Harrows Contract Furniture
Fire and acoustic doors
Pacific Doors
Calder Stewart – team: Mark Weaver, project director; Paul Smith, design manager; Matt Peterson, project manager
Interior design
Ignite Architects, Hoyts Entertainment
Hoyts fit-out
CMP Construction
Civil engineer
Jordan Walker
Fire consultant
Innowood timber cladding, from Symonite; Alucobond aluminium cladding by Symonite; Eurotray Colorcoat steel
Glazing systems
Altus/Nulook, with treatments by GSL Glassguard; exterior glazing – Raylight
Balconies and balustrades
Handrails, balustrades, and plant platforms by Monkeytoe; steel services, from Falcon Manufacturing
General flooring
Megafloor by Polished Concrete; Vaporshield by Thermakraft; Bellaroc; Laminex
Dulux; Resene
Insulation, thermal and acoustic
Acoustic panelling
Autex ABB panels, Autex Etch from Autex Industries; USG Boral acoustic plasterboards
General lighting
Nind Electrical Services
Heating/air con
Simplyheat fireplace; Temperzone air conditioning, installed by AMT Mechanical Services
Decorative furniture
Printed screens and back-lit fabrics by John Herber; front-of-house architectural elements by Unique Creative and Hoyts
Lift and escalator services
Plantings, real and artificial
Florax, Outside In

Story by: Charles Moxham

Photography by: David Baird

29 Jan, 2019

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