EntX: Entertainment Central

EntX: Entertainment Central officially opened its doors September 28, 2018 and is home to a state of the art HOYTS cinema complex upstairs and a unique ground floor dining precinct.

Having heard that HOYTS were looking to create a flagship venue in the Christchurch CBD we approached them with a potential site we’d identified and handled the purchase of that land. For commercially cost-effectiveness we researched ways to fill the building that would complement the cinema offering, ultimately deciding to lift it up a level and include a hospitality hub.

Preparing the land

Quite a bit of remedial work needed to be done on the land, which had some contamination issues. As part of these costs were being met by the land’s previous owner during this pre-construction phase, costs were checked by a QS and meticulous records were kept on things such as the number of truckloads of dirt going off the site.

Once contamination issues were sorted the land then had to be strengthened. This was achieved by putting in many, many stone columns, drilling down into the ground and compressing it as the drill is removed.

Designed for efficient construction

This project is a true design and build, designed on the basis of the most efficient way to build in terms of materials and a construction sequence.

One of the biggest challenges of this project is site access. It is a tight site with 100% coverage and bounded on three sides by street and the other by the new Justice Precinct. To get around this complication the building was split into multiple phases; each was able to be built one after another and independently of each other. This sped up construction on site by providing multiple work faces for construction teams.

For the first nine months, while there was space, our 250-tonne hauler crane was on site for all the heavy lifting; after that mobile cranes took over the light structure.

The building’s design is essentially two different types of building in one. To meet acoustic requirements for the cinemas these are all individual concrete boxes; this form of construction anchors that part of the building. The east half - the high atrium and dining precinct – is a ‘lightweight’ steel structure. Also, 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 big shake the building will move at that point, minimising damage and risk.

Speed and safety

The precast concrete and metal façades are designed as clip ons, an easy solution to the limited and complicated access to the site. These were fabricated and assembled offsite on the flat then transported to site, lifted into place and bolted on. This sped up erection times and reduced onsite clutter. It also meant the builders were working across the face less than 1m above ground level vs working on a 15m high vertical face. This simplified construction even down to making the use of a chalk line easier for marking out fixing lines for the plywood.

Converting ‘acoustic science’ into buildable solutions has simplified onsite construction techniques, reducing temporary works and potential risks for construction staff during the install; for example, putting the acoustic boards on top of the purlins rather than trying to hang under them at 20m in the air.

The ultimate fit-out

The fit-out phase requires a level of time and space management not common to most projects. HOYTS fit-out contractors alone have around 60 containers worth of stuff! This will happen while we’re finishing off the areas outside the cinema plus fit out of the ground floor. On top of that, individual ground floor tenants will be completing their fit-outs too. Essentially three fit outs will be happening simultaneously at a site with one loading bay and no onsite storage. To manage this a robust booking system is in place. With a single pull in bay on Colombo street for trucks, everyone has to book their space a week and a half in advance.

With a daily average of 140+ people already on a compact site (more during fit out) stringent health and safety practices have also been a hugely prominent part of our undertaking.