Chch to be city of lanes and courtyards?

20:40, Jan 31 2014
Christchurch alleyways
SENSE OF DISCOVERY: Eamonn Stockman, project manager and Jasper van der Lingen, director of Sheppard and Rout, stand in a laneway that leads to a courtyard in the new Stranges building.

Central Christchurch will become a city of laneways and courtyards if trends evident early in the rebuild continue, architects and developers say.

Architect Jasper van der Lingen, of Sheppard and Rout Architects, said he hoped for an "almost medieval network of nooks and crannies with lots of cafes and bars".

"Hopefully, there will be a whole pedestrian network going through the city, separate from the streets," he said.

A lane and courtyard van der Lingen designed will be among the first to open, perhaps as early as next month.

It pierces the new Stranges building at High and Lichfield streets and offers space for five cafes, bars and restaurants over a modest 194 square metres.

The already open Vespa bar will open onto the courtyard, as well as three units leased to a hospitality company once active in Christchurch and these days doing business in Auckland.


Patrons will be served through windows and wide folding doors, overlooked by mezzanine and higher office balconies.

A highlight is the textured brick of the 1883 Bonnington building, which has been refurbished since the quakes, project manager Eamonn Stockman said.

The pre-quake developments in Poplar Lane and Sol Square proved laneways and courtyards worked in Christchurch, van der Lingen said.

Melbourne was largely the inspiration for the lanes and courtyard that will be the signature element of The Terrace development, owner Antony Gough told a Studio Christchurch summer school audience this week.

He wanted customers to have a "sense of discovery" as they explored and patronised bars, cafes and restaurants on the first two floors of the Cashel St and Oxford Tce development.

"The spaces between the buildings are just as important as the buildings themselves."

The Terrace courtyard will be about the same size as the largest open space in the Arts Centre - the North Quad, once home of Annies Wine Bar - and likewise feature a single large tree that will change with the seasons.

Gough pictured cafes and bars spilling into the courtyard, with buskers and musicians entertaining the public.

Courtyards and lanes allowed the centre of a block to be used, Gough's lead architect, Richard Hayman, said.

"Traditional buildings bang into each other. Lanes are a great way of getting more life into these spaces," Hayman said.

Nick Hunt's Lichfield Holdings is planning a large courtyard as well as lanes and arcades running north-south between Cashel and Hereford Sts, as well as to The Terrace.

Mark Lusis, a recently-appointed Christchurch team leader for global engineering, planning and consulting firm Arup, said lanes change the speed of a city.

He said lanes provide the "pulse and vibe of a city" and encourage the idea it can be vibrant through a workday and deep into the night.

The Press