Christchurch Town Hall, the city's premier performing arts and civic facility, is being restored.

Two time-lapse cameras provide a glimpse of the work underway at the Town Hall, one inside the Douglas Lilburn Auditorium and a second outside facing the northern elevation (Kilmore Street). See what's happening at the Town Hall(external link).

As part of the conservation project, which began in June 2015, the Town Hall's Douglas Lilburn Auditorium, entrance foyer, James Hay Theatre and the Limes Room are being restored. The former Boaters restaurant (now the Avon Room) is also being rebuilt.

The Council is also replacing the damaged Cambridge Room with a purpose-built facility for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO), giving the CSO a permanent home in the Town Hall for the first time. The administration and rehearsal facility will include toilets for the public and office space for Vbase, the venue management company that operates the Town Hall. 

A report(external link) [PDF 14.8MB] considered by councillors on Wednesday 19 December 2018 confirmed the Town Hall will reopen in early 2019. The Town Hall will open in stages, with the first areas – the Douglas Lilburn Auditorium, the foyer, the Avon Room (former Boaters Restaurant) and Limes Rooms – to be complete from February 2019.  All events planned will go ahead in 2019, beginning with CSO with Shapeshifter, on 1 March 2019. Work on the James Hay Theatre is due to be completed in April 2019 while the CSO building will be finished in May 2019.

Stage set for Town Hall's return(external link)

The Town Hall is being strengthened to 100 per cent of the New Building Standard and significantly refurbished, ensuring it is a modern, world-class facility that can be enjoyed for many years to come. We have identified opportunities to bring the Town Hall up to modern standards, and to future-proof the building, as construction has progressed.

In May 2018, the Council approved $152.2 million in funding for the Town Hall plus the purpose-built CSO facility. On 19 December 2019, it approved additional funding of up to $15 million.

Town Hall timeline

June 2015

Christchurch City Council votes to fully repair and restore the earthquake-damaged Town Hall at a cost of $127.5 million.

Hawkins is appointed as the main contractor and site preparations begin.

The option of building a new 1500 seat auditorium and 600 seat theatre on a new site – as outlined in the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan – at a cost of $193.5 million was considered by the Council, but rejected.

November 2015

Work to strengthen the Town Hall’s badly damaged foundations begins.

January 2016

Approval is given to upgrade the Auditorium’s stage by installing stage lifts.

The decision is also taken to improve the Avon Room's (former Boaters restaurant) accessibility by making the floor all one level.

Mid 2016

Approval is given to add acoustics to the James Hay Theatre to improve the sound quality.

June 2016

As part of its 2016/17 Annual Plan process, the Council adjusts the budget for the Town Hall to take into account inflationary pressures. The adjustment takes the total approved budget to $133.1 million.

December 2016

A fly tower (or theatrical rigging system) is added to the scope of works for the James Hay Theatre.

May 2017

Retractable seating is approved for the James Hay Theatre.

July 2017

Agreement is given, in principle, for the Cambridge Room to be rebuilt as a purpose-built facility for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

March 2018

Approval is given for additional security cameras to be installed in the Town Hall.

May 2018

Council approves additional budget for improvements to the Town Hall, bringing the total budget to $152.2 million.

February 2019

The first areas in the Town Hall, including the auditorium, the foyer, the Avon Room (former function room) and the Limes Room, expected to be complete. A public open day is planned.

March 2019

The first event, CSO with Shapeshifter, planned for the newly restored Town Hall to go ahead on March 2019.