Herriot Melhuish O’Neill Architects - Wellington, Christchurch, Auckland, Tauranga

FIFA Women's World Cup 2023™️ – HMOA's in the changing rooms


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Architect Steph Gardner takes us back-of-house at the Wellington Regional Stadium in preparation for the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023™️ Tournament. We are hosting nine games including a quarter-final.

Steph, HMOA is already pretty familiar with the stadium and its changing rooms, tell us why ...

We've been involved with the stadium since 2011 when we worked on a refurbishment and expansion, including additional office spaces and meeting rooms, a new kitchen and storage areas and improvements to entry/reception areas and the boardroom. We also upgraded the Deloitte Club Lounge, the home team changing room, the medical room and the entertainers’ rooms as well as adding a new changing room, warm-up area and media lounge.


What changes are you currently making in time for the 2023 FIFA Women's World Cup?

We're working with Sky Stadium Trust, Greenstone Group and Sport New Zealand to make the changing rooms gender-neutral; more private and comfortable for everyone, now and in the future.

We're upgrading the showers and adding partitions to create individual stalls rather than a communal space. It’s actually quite a major plumbing and drainage project, not to mention the retiling.

We're removing some of the urinals, covering others, and adding more toilets. We're also addressing the privacy site lines in the changing rooms.

How have the changing rooms held up since HMOA's 2011 refurbishment?

Amazingly well – especially when you think how many players, performers and support crews have used them in the last 12 years. Other than the major changes needed, there’s minimal upgrading required because we specified high-quality products the first time around.

We're also reusing as much as possible, including the previous showerheads, which are still in great order.

As one of the stadium's maintenance team recently commented, "Those changing rooms look like they were only done three years ago!"

I bet you never thought you'd be discussing urinals when you were at architecture school in France ...

I've been having fun conversations about the likes of urinal covers and the load-bearing capacity of shower seats that can accommodate injured players. Two showers in each of the four changing rooms are slightly wider to cater for this, but standard shower seats have a maximum load of 120kg. Most rugby players weigh more than that, especially – as I discovered in my research – one French prop, Walid Maamry, who is 170kg.

Our supplier Hale Partitions has ended up having to order seats from Australia.

I know you are proud of the work HMOA has done across both of these refurbishments ...

Definitely, everything we do is to support the players and is about showcasing New Zealand on the world stage, especially for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup.

It will be exciting when we see the changing rooms on TV!

Steph at the stadium v2
Steph on the job at Wellington Regional Stadium
Stadium communal showers
The existing communal showers
A major job
Lotu Kaufusi from Plastercoat. It's a major plumbing and retiling job.