Scrapped Breathe competition a 'waste of time and money'

An artist's impression of the design by Ganellen and Design King Company, which was among the finalists in the Breathe ...
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An artist's impression of the design by Ganellen and Design King Company, which was among the finalists in the Breathe Urban Village competition.

Entrants in an urban design competition say the time, money and effort of almost 60 national and international groups have been wasted by the Government.

The Breathe Urban Village concept generated global interest and was hailed as a catalyst of residential development in central Christchurch after the earthquakes.

The Christchurch Central Development Unit (CCDU) recently called time on commercial negotiations with the winning group – headed by local developer Ian Smart – after it failed to secure funding to build its timber-clad complex on the former Charlie B's Backpackers site north of Latimer Sq.

A concept drawing of the design submitted by the consortium including The Viva! Project and Jasmax Architects.
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A concept drawing of the design submitted by the consortium including The Viva! Project and Jasmax Architects.

Negotiations had been ongoing for more than two years.

Since the announcement, two finalists have called for the project to be offered to runners-up but a CCDU spokesman has now confirmed there was "no intention to revisit" the competition.

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He said any claims about how the site may be developed were merely speculation.

Runners-up included Ceres New Zealand and architect Roger Walker, a consortium including The Viva! Project and architects Jasmax and construction company Ganellen.

Co-convenor of The Viva! Project Jane Quigley said the CCDU had told her the entire Breathe concept would be scrapped and the land would be sold to other developers.

"[The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority has] wasted our time and made a fool of Christchurch on the international stage," the Viva! Project said in a press release.

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Quigley has written to the CCDU, Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel, city councillors and Ngai Tahu to express her "extreme disappointment" with the outcome. 

She said Breathe was an "exciting opportunity" aimed at creating a vibrant, sustainable and affordable community-focused village in the central city.

"The execution of this vision has been poorly handled and consequently has wasted the time, money and resources of hundreds of people," she said.

"People are disillusioned with Cera's involvement, feel unheard and disengaged."

The Viva! Project was looking to pursue development options outside of Crown-owned land, she said. 

The Breathe project was listed in the city's recovery blueprint as an anchor project and received the backing of British designer and Grand Designs host Kevin McCloud, who was on the judging panel.

Ceres New Zealand manager Bernie de Vere called the failed project a "lost opportunity" and said competition entrants poured a considerable amount of time and money into their designs.

Stuff requested information about the lead-up to the CCDU pulling the plug on the project under the Official Information Act. The response was due on Monday but the CCDU extended it to February 10.

 - Stuff

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