In the heart of Foxton, the proposed Te Awahou - Nieuwe Stroom Cultural and Community Centre will play a key part in revitalising the former river port town.
Underpinning the recently approved concept design is the theme of ‘weaving’ – weaving together a community, cultures, a town centre and its natural heritage.
Foxton originally developed during the nineteenth century as a bustling port and economic hub on the Manawatu River. The flax that grew in the vast wetlands of the Manawatu Plain had long been a resource for tangata whenua and became the basis of a thriving fibre export industry. The industry waned, however, and the Manawatu River became unnavigable. By the end of last century Foxton had become a backwater.
Revitalising the town has been the focus of community visioning and long-term community planning over the last decade. In 2009, the local Māori and Dutch communities submitted a proposal for a multi-purpose museum facility that would weave together the two cultures and celebrate their role in the town’s unique heritage. Horowhenua District Council engaged our landscape architects to assist by evaluating site options and developing the Foxton Town Plan 2010. The Te Awahou site was identified as a pivotal area adjacent to the existing deMolen Windmill, the Flax Stripper Museum and Whare Manaaki.
The Council bought the site and a business case was developed for a multi-purpose facility that would be both a world-class attraction and a community hub. Along with Bossley Architects, we were engaged to develop concept designs for the Te Awahou building and the external spaces, which the Council approved in principle in February 2015.
The main building will include multi-purpose gallery, performance, meeting and learning spaces as well as a library and café. The outdoor spaces will provide for an extension of the activities that will occur within the building, such as events and interpretation of Foxton’s cultural and natural heritage, a performance stage, and a plaza/lawn area for gatherings and pop-up events.
“An important aspect of the concept design is the integration of the building with its surroundings, both functionally and physically,” says Boffa Miskell principal and landscape architect, Marc Tomes. “The new external environment will help ground the redevelopment of the building and maximise the experience and opportunities for the local community and its visitors. It’s all about reconnecting the town with the river, celebrating heritage and culture, and attracting people to Foxton.”
With concept designs now approved in principle, detailed design can begin.
10 March 2015