Futuristic Christchurch is emerging

21:55, Dec 29 2013
Uni River
CASH BOOST: The Government's $260 million funding injection will help the University of Canterbury build a new science centre and expand and upgrade engineering facilities.

It has been a year of imagined futures in Christchurch.

Almost every week a new "artist's impression" of a building planned for Christchurch city centre has been released.

The images, created by architects using sophisticated computer software, imagine a future Christchurch full of happy people strolling around a glossy city of shiny glass walls and generous plazas.

The Strip, The Terrace
NEW VISION: An artist's impression of The Terrace, Antony and Tracy Gough's planned replacement for The Strip entertainment precinct in Oxford Tce in central Christchurch.

But what do these computer renderings say about how the rebuilt Christchurch might look?

The majority of new buildings planned for Christchurch appear to be simple affairs.

They are often steel-framed buildings with glass facades, sometimes enlivened by timber arranged in a pattern or steel mesh hanging in front of the glass.


151 Cambridge Tce
RIVERSIDE DEVELOPMENT: 151 Cambridge Tce will have a curved glass facade.

The high cost of complex foundation and structural requirements in post-quake Canterbury often means there is little money left for design finesse.

The proposed new science hub at Canterbury University is a typical example of a simple building made more visually interesting with unusual facade treatments.

The diagonal timber slats on the side of the building make an otherwise unremarkable building look more interesting.

Christchurch 'living cathedral' plans
FUTURISTIC: New concept plans for a "living cathedral" in Christchurch will feature chapels, gardens and a place for civic gatherings, all under a "floating" canopy.

The architects for the new Terrace development on Oxford Terrace, being developed by Canterbury rich lister Antony Gough, have taken a similar approach.

The facades feature timber and strips of steel at different angles to make the three buildings look different and present a lively face to the Avon River.

A few designers attempted to create distinctive buildings in the challenging Christchurch construction sector.

The replacement for the Stranges building on the corner of High and Lichfield streets has an interesting shape, coming to a sharp point and echoing the form of the heritage building that once stood on that corner.

The new building on the former site of Santorinis restaurant on Cambridge Tce is intriguing, with a curving steel mesh facade that breaks up the otherwise conventional looking building.

The winner of the Breathe Urban village concept for the corner of Madras and Gloucester St next to Latimer Square is certainly engaging.

The idea of high density living in the city centre is a good one, but it is unclear whether New Zealanders will embrace the idea.

Sadly, the most exciting vision for the future of Christchurch will probably never be built.

Designs by British practice Grimshaw for a new Anglican cathedral in the city centre featured a large lattice timber frame roof that extended across Cathedral Square. The designs were immediately dismissed.

The design was one of the most striking and inspiring visions for the future of Christchurch I have seen this year.

Too bad it won't get built.

The Press