Precinct one out of the box

21:31, Oct 10 2013
Boxed Quarter
BOXED IN: An artist's impression of the Boxed Quarter to be built on the corner of Madras and St Asaph streets in Christchurch.

Who said boxy architecture was dull?

Thinking outside the square has led to the Boxed Quarter - a $6 million precinct for about 50 Christchurch businesses and arts groups due to open early next year.

The modular precinct is going up on the corner of Madras and St Asaph streets. It will house shops, cafes, bars, offices, music studios, and performance and exhibition spaces around laneways and public courtyards.

It began as exhibition space ArtBox. First mooted last year by Martin Trusttum, from Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, with frames by F3design architect Andrew Just, the concept has grown from a community concept picked up by developer Daniel Godden and is now becoming commercial reality.

A group of local investors under the name Box Quarter Ltd, backed by financiers Taurus Group, have taken up the project, leasing the land and obtaining finance.

F3's design is now for a complex three and four storeys high, with frames made locally by Chapman Engineering.

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Box Quarter shareholder Jeremy Costeloe said it was exciting to see the development getting off the ground.

"It's taken quite a lot of time to come to fruition. The idea was at first centred around attracting polytech students, but we've had to be more pragmatic to make it work," he said.

The project's budget has grown from $600,000 with donated materials to $6m and a rent roll of 50 tenants.

Tenants already signed include a Thai restaurant, an accountancy firm, and music industry body Chart, whose BeatBox facility in the precinct will include recording studios.

Despite similarities to the Re:Start container mall, the Boxed Quarter is intended to last longer. The company has a six-year land lease, with further rights of renewal.

The steel frames will be clad in a variety of materials and slotted together on concrete pads.

The land was previously the site of the Southland Tavern, later the Jetset Lounge, which was demolished after the quakes.

Leasing agent Paul Brown, of CBRE, described the complex as "different and cool".

"It's great to see some different types of construction, people thinking outside the square and seeing new ways of putting things together."

The Press