Zeal – Wellington
Zeal Youth Trust is a dedicated team committed to the advancement of young people in the creative arts, leadership and education. As a youth organisation they exist to engage young people, spotlight their abilities, and journey with them through their struggles. Bound by values of authenticity, community, and opportunity, they are inspired by the creative potential of New Zealand youth. Through an holistic approach to youth development, Zeal currently provides support for young people in their journey towards becoming adults eager to give back to their communities. Not just a place to hang out after school, Zeal provides after school workshops in barista training, photography, graffiti art, and sound and lighting; as well as regular weekend events, music tuition, leadership courses and cognitive theory programmes for at-risk youth.
Zeal Youth Trust has become a key voice and cultural hub for Wellington teenagers. Over 200 young people every week visit the venue. The new premises in Ghuznee Street (above Bar Bodega), is twice the size of the old space, but the planning and consents for new custom fit-out as a performance venue were tricky. The original 1930s building was purpose built as a clubroom for the Returned Servicemen’s Association and has a heritage listing status, making it difficult to alter the exterior. Fire and egress, and the challenges of accommodating a new lift into the heritage lobby, all required careful thought and planning. The brief was also demanding, requiring multi-use spaces with a high level of acoustic separation.
The venue fit-out needed to appeal to the target audience. In collaboration with our client we drew inspiration from the surrounding Cuba Street scene, studying the local graffiti, cafes and music venues in the neighbourhood.
Utilising a stripped-back aesthetic, and exposed structural shell we divided the space using inserted elements for cafe and practice rooms, creating an aesthetic of playful surfaces like astro-turf and blackboard paint, decorated with suspended stolen shopping trolleys, car parts, and graffiti art panels painted by Wellington’s young people.
The final result is a resounding success, both in design, use and meeting the tight budget. Where the new lift arrives from the lobby below a small office area allows functions here to be separated from the performance spaces. A 20 seat cafe with gaming spaces doubles as a welcoming space, office overflow and training space during the week. Beyond this is a performance space for 350-400 in an auditorium-style venue, adjacent to the acoustically isolated recording and practice spaces (shared with the local School of Rock).