The Waitangi Treaty Grounds are one of New Zealand’s most important historical sites, which have now become a very significant tourist destination. With increasing numbers visiting every year, there was a need to upgrade the Visitor’s Centre in order to enhance the visitor experience. The Waitangi Visitors Centre, by Architect John Scott – opened in 1983. The design was a single large gable ended building, with the front in the form of the whare veranda. Over the years the building has undergone many changes and additions to cater for both administration and visitor needs.
A major consideration was to retain and preserve the integrity of John Scotts original design concepts and ideas. One of which was the simple play of open and enclosed space. These sequences of spaces make up a journey, which can be demonstrated from the gateway building to the visitors centre and throughout.
The glass-covered courtyard leading to the west façade (designed by HB Architecture) provides a meeting point for guided tours and an open space before entering. This side of the building will remain untouched.
The large retail volume of the building will at last be able to be seen with the high-level windows beyond giving connection to the many native trees that envelop the building. This was always John Scott’s intention (as interpreted from the drawings), however, due to pressure of numbers of visitors to the building a series of modifications blocked this significant view. The large original gable ended roof has been extended and revealed, whilst maintaining the lines of the current ridge and structure. To the east, the elevated walkway connects the Visitor’s Centre to the rest of the Waitangi Treaty grounds.