Maynard 4 Sir Howard Morrison Centre

  • Pou Auaha / Creative Director
    Guy Hohmann
  • Ringatoi Matua / Design Director
    Emme Jacob
  • Ngā Kaimahi / Team Members
    Noor Alshawa, Jordan Henderson, Sophie Harkness
  • Kaitautoko / Contributors
    Expandasign, Henriata Nicholas, Kingi Biddle
  • Client
    Rotorua Lakes Council

Rotorua’s Sir Howard Morrison Centre is destined to reclaim its place among Aotearoa’s most beloved performing arts venues. In exceptional new facilities built where the performing arts greats of our past once held forth, a new generation of performers will find their feet on the stage.

As the revitalised centre approached construction completion, Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC) identified the need for a wayfinding strategy to ensure the facility was spatially legible and intuitive for those that would move through it.

We worked with Pūkenga Matauranga Māori Kingi Biddle, artist Henriata Nicholas and RLC stakeholders to develop a wayfinding response which would connect with and strengthen the kōrero underpinning the architecture, artwork and naming of the revitalised SHMC. The resulting kaupapa emphasized a sense of being present in the space: kei kōnei koe.

Manaakitanga is expressed in the second foundation element of the response. This established the principle that the wayfinding be ‘there, but not there’ – coming forward to welcome and assist, but receding when help is not required.

‘There, but not there’ was realised simply in the design system by drawing a neutral material palette directly from the interiors of the space and building a visual language in complement to Henriata Nicholas’ integrated artworks.

The graphic and product language uses a base pattern derived from traditional tāniko – used by Henriata Nicholas to adorn the seat fabric within the main auditorium – which then defines the geometric language of the three-dimensional pictograms. The outcome supports RLC’s wood-first policy by fabricating the iconic pictogram suite from sustainably grown timber.

The applied information strategy allows theatres to be the main focus, whilst providing energy to other key environments, such as the studios, cafe and bar.

The front-of-house wayfinding system for SHMC supports the function of the space and helps to knit architecture and artworks together, while keeping the spotlight turned firmly towards the performers.