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Theatre Royal


The historic Theatre Royal in Nelson has been conserved creating a fully functional theatre of 21st century standards while respecting its heritage. The theatre was built in 1878 and is New Zealand's oldest functioning theatre of timber construction.

Theatre royal exterior

In true Victorian style the façade is an elaborate attempt to hide the predominantly shed-like structure behind, the bulk of which was increased with the need for a substantially higher flytower to meet modern day functionality.

Looking at historic black and white photos it was apparent the Theatre had been elaborately painted enhancing the Victorian details. It was important to re-establish the building's position in the community by rethinking its bland appearance.

Theatre royal exterior

The colour selection needed to give the building a presence on the street without being brazen. From the façade right through to the auditorium subtle connections have been made. The outside now looks resplendent in Resene Anticipation (mushroom rose), Resene Brunette (red brown), Resene Gold Dust (gold metallic), Resene Havana (smouldering brown), Resene Kidman (soft pink). Resene Quarter Lumberjack (dusky rose) and Resene Warhol (rose pink).

Theatre royal bannisters

Appropriate sustainable Resene systems were chosen for use on recycled and refurbished materials including the historic upper level façade, and roof ventilators. Resene Sonyx 101 semi-gloss waterborne paint with Resene CoolColour™ technology was used for the timber cladding and detailing to reduce the stress of darker colours on the historic façade and improve longevity. The historic roof ventilation cupolas were finished in Resene Uracryl semi-gloss to achieve a high level of durability in an exposed location.

Theatre royal interior - after renovation
Theatre royal - chandelier

On the inside at the outset of the project the auditorium paintwork was a tatty array of garish and loud colours – theatrical yes, but not befitting the vision for this grand old lady's future.

The careful conservation work within the auditorium revealed a wealth of information about previous colours used and these informed the final colour selection assembled to create a rich lustrous interior befitting the auditorium's heritage. A small section of original frieze uncovered beneath a doorway architrave confirmed colour developments were appropriate while allowing this to be replicated and reinstated to further embellish the space.

Theatre royal - interior

A sense of opulence is achieved with the use of the metallic gold painted details and deep velvet fabric curtains and upholstery. The broad areas of soft warm colours embrace the audience as the auditorium lights dim. Subtle use of contrasting Resene sheens recreate an original wall panel border stencil pattern found beneath layers of paper. Darker colours of the dado and flooring solidly ground the scheme with integrity.

Theatre royal - interior finishings
Theatre royal - interior finishings  2

The interior palette incorporates an impressive array of hues including Resene Aqua Squeeze (greyed aqua white), Resene Birthday Suit (red oxide buff), Resene Breathless (blue grey), Resene Buffalo (malted brown), Resene Burgundy (rust red blend), Resene Cashmere (dusty coral pink), Resene Desperado (ginger brown), Resene Emperor (warm brown),Resene Feta (green edged white), Resene Gold (gold metallic), Resene Gold Dust (gold metallic), Resene Green Mist (pale green), Resene Miso (yellowed neutral), Resene Mule Fawn (brown red oxide), Resene Peanut (earth brown), Resene Quicksand (muddy brown), Resene Rebel (warm earth brown), Resene Rialto (deep red), Resene Sienna (red brown), Resene Silk (soft beige), Resene Soapstone (warm neutral), Resene Sonique (pastel mauve), Resene Toast (red oxide brown), Resene Van Cleef (reddened brown), Resene Ventura (old sharp gold), Resene Vintage (brown rose) and Resene White.

Theatre royal - interior finishings 3
Theatre royal - interior finishings 4
Theatre royal - interior finishings 5

The foyer colours mediate between the exterior and the auditorium with luxurious details on a fresh crisp background.

Back of house utility areas are finished in Resene's PaintWise EchoPaint grey 100% recycled waterborne paint, recovered from unwanted returned paint products.

Theatre royal - renovations
Theatre royal - renovations 2

Other appropriate sustainable Resene systems were chosen for use on recycled and refurbished materials, including the refurbished theatre seats, recycled timber benchtops, the re-laid rimu auditorium floor, the restored and reproduced decorative embossed ceiling paper, and the chandeliers recycled from previous light fittings.

Winner of a Resene Total Colour Commercial Interior – Public + Retail Maestro Award 2011, this theatre is testament to what can be achieved with dedication to details.

Colours used: (exterior) Resene Anticipation, Resene Brunette, Resene Gold Dust, Resene Havana, Resene Kidman, Resene Quarter Lumberjack, Resene Warhol, (interior) Resene Aqua Squeeze, Resene Birthday Suit, Resene Breathless, Resene Buffalo, Resene Burgundy, Resene Cashmere, Resene Desperado, Resene Emperor, Resene Feta, Resene Gold, Resene Gold Dust, Resene Green Mist, Resene Miso, Resene Mule Fawn, Resene Peanut, Resene Quicksand, Resene Rebel, Resene Rialto, Resene Sienna, Resene Silk, Resene Soapstone, Resene Sonique, Resene Toast, Resene Van Cleef, Resene Ventura, Resene Vintage, Resene White.

Architectural specifier: Palmer & Palmer Architects Ltd
Building Contractor: Fitzgerald Construction Ltd
Painting Contractor (exterior): Brown & Syme Holdings Ltd
Painting Contractor (interior): PeterWood Decorating, Brown & Syme Holdings Ltd
Photography: Palmer & Palmer Architects Ltd, Kiki Nichols Photography
Project Manager: Delta Projects Ltd
Winner: Resene Total Colour Commercial Interior – Public + Retail Maestro Award
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2011
From the Resene News – issue 3/2011

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