A Whangārei riverside landmark building is undergoing a complicated renovation project to replace its large and oddly shaped roof.
The 40-year-old Riverbank Centre roof is being replaced after extensive leaking. The process involves installing a huge, temporary plastic watertight dome-shaped covering over the existing roof to enable work to be carried out underneath.
Whangārei Theatre Company executive committee member Shane Green said it had taken a creative scaffolding job to support the plastic covering for the oddly shaped roof of the Riverbank Centre, home to the city's long-established WTC.
The building comprises a theatre auditorium capable of seating 160 people, with a large stage area, dressing rooms, a workshop, wardrobe area and rehearsal rooms.
The plastic dome is the first step in a project to restore the 40 year-old roof, the crowning glory of a building constructed entirely by volunteer labour early in the 1980s. It was constructed with laminated asphalt shingles and would be replaced with the same materials.
Since then, the centre has become home not only to WTC, but dozens of other community groups and special events that make use of it year round.
WTC treasurer Ian Page said, "The roof has begun leaking in recent times, but the fact it's lasted this long is a tribute to those volunteers who put the original building up."
The job, estimated to cost $400,000, is being carried out by Whangārei company NPM Construction. Contributions from the Northland Foundation and the Lotteries Commission are helping fund the project.
NPM group general manager Cameron Lornie said: "It's certainly unique, a designer's vision that doesn't follow the norm. And when you look at other buildings around Whangārei like the Hundertwasser project, this one also tells a slightly different story to the average structure."
The full scale of the challenge won't be clear until the old shingles come off, and an assessment can be made of any issues caused by water.
"It's not weather tightness for dummies," Lornie added. "But it's worth preserving for that reason."
The job is complicated by the fact the building remains open for rehearsals, concerts, the Making a Scene academy for schools, and dozens of other community activities.
On the plus side, said Green, the construction team will have free entertainment as they go about their work, with rehearsals under way for WTC's production of West Side Story, due to open July 16.
WTC, known at the time as WAODS, had been running more than 30 years by the time the Riverbank Centre was built.
WAODS was born in the mind of a young seamstress walking home from work one night in the 1940s, realising the city needed evening entertainment. To begin with, home was a small house in Woodhill. Then came the old Rowing Club rooms, followed by premises in Alexander St.
Since its build and subsequent move to the Riverbank Centre in the 1980s, WTC has developed a reputation for high-quality productions and has won a string of awards.
It remains a non-profit organisation, and while the Lotteries grant and Foundation North funds will cover the bulk of the roof repair, fundraising is still required.
The project is expected to be complete by the end of June.