Quake damage upsets architect

17:00, Aug 06 2014

Architect Patrick Sloan says to see Christchurch as a broken city after returning from China to join architecture practice Warren and Mahoney has been distressing.

He is based with his family in Auckland but visits Christchurch, where the architecture firm is based, three or four days every week, usually staying at a hotel in Latimer Square.

Walks through the city give him a sense of the quake rebuild as taking a lot longer than similar projects would in his former location in Beijing. Sadness was one emotion he felt.

"There's probably a level of patience that's required. But when people are trying to get about their daily lives and they're constantly frustrated then, yeah [it is hard]."

In China labour was cheaper, so speedier progress on roadwork or other projects was possible.

Sloan said that living in Beijing for 10 years allowed him to work on large-scale commercial, mixed-use and hospitality projects in China, India and other countries in the region. In China he had worked on "front end" design for projects, including conceptual and detailed design.


That work would prove useful for Christchurch projects, he said.

"We need to consider how individual buildings are involved in a larger interaction with the city - the way people move about a precinct, its place in the urban environment and skyline and, perhaps most importantly, how it contributes to a city's identity."

In Christchurch he saw opportunities for exciting residential developments and "new ways of living" in the central city, within the four avenues.

"There are a number of projects that are in the wings that will probably provide an interesting take on what Christchurch could be in the future."

While he was involved in a number of such projects, he could not talk further on them at this stage due to confidentiality.

The move back was prompted by the needs of a young family, but he saw some parallels between Beijing and Christchurch.

"For so long we were in the middle of a construction site. Literally we lived in the middle of one . . .

"You see the environment is constantly changing, you're always coming up against traffic barriers, there's always dust and it was always half finished."

Having a three-year-old daughter who could only play outside once or twice a week, due to smog constraints, was a prime driver for the return.

The company's office in Southwark St is bursting at the seams with more than 70 employees.

Sloan says the practice will move further north to the corner of Cashel and Montreal streets, but he has enjoyed experiencing the gentrification in the southern side of the city.

He believes one of the primary objectives for commercial projects should be to ensure it will meet the needs of the public and the city.

The Press