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Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club building

Architectural life saver: The Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club is riding a wave of award nominations for CoLab Architecture and Bushnell Builders

Already listed on the Honours Board in the new Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club building, CoLab Architecture is now harvesting honours for the project in the 2018 Canterbury NZIA awards, currently shortlisted to win the Public Architecture section.

Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club building

True to its name, CoLab collaborated on design with Aaron Jones of Urban Function Architecture on this authentically community-driven and focussed scheme. The club was built purely with fundraising and donations, with the building industry, the community and the council working together to realise the dream. “It has been a wonderful project and process to be involved with, an extremely successful community project,” says Colab’s Tobin Smith.
Architect Blair Paterson together with Tobin had a unique brief for this building – the location: isolated, the risks: weather, tide and vandalism, the needs: utilitarian, the budget: lean, yet the want was something exceptionally unique. The result is stunning; simple but interesting; elegant but very, very hardy.
The materials are robust and fit the tight budget – which means locally available. The ground floor is concrete block “to account for the fact that the sand dunes are likely to encroach on the site at some point”.
The upper levels are 28mm thick Siberian Larch which can handle the blast of wind-driven sand, and whose colour will dilute into silver over time, blending with the thousand shades of grey evident on so many days in the land of the long white cloud.
The 900 square metre building is actually three wings. The tower contains the control and first aid stations, positioned on the path from the car park to the beach. An external walkway links the next block housing the clubroom and bar plus the replacement Spencerville Community Hall above, with gear storage. Incorporating the hall extends the use of the building from seasonal to year-round. Views and deck are fully glazed east and completely opening to the west. The suite is completed with the third wing hosting changing and bathrooms, offices and gym.
Architect Blair Paterson says, “We would love to be involved in more community projects where we can because while our work is nationwide, Christchurch is our home.”
Bushnell Builders was selected as the main contractor, getting the project across the board with a limited budget through strong buy-in from subcontractors and suppliers. “The construction for this iconic building was a true team effort,” Bushnell Builders Project Manager Brad Austin says.

Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club building “The generosity of subcontractors and suppliers who supported this project requires special mention.”
Bushnell Builders supported this project both in light of the importance of surf lifesaving in the area and supporting the local community. The company prides itself on delivering projects of a high standard while collaborating with clients, consultants, subcontractors and other stakeholders to ensure projects are a successful and enjoyable process.
The Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club building demonstrates the success of this approach and Bushnell Builders congratulates CoLab on the 2018 NZIA nomination and for the success of the project. “As the Larch cladding fades, it will blend with the landscape and the views from the building will add to the grandeur of this iconic building,” Brad says.
“The Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club is a project that we are very proud of and we believe that as a team we have left a great legacy for the club and community.”

Project Partners

  1. CoLab Architecture
    Ph: 03 379 3309
  2. Bushnell Builders
    Ph: 03 344 5972
Lintrathen Gardens

Gardens complex architecture turns heads: Sheppard & Rout’s NZIA shortlisted project Lintrathen Gardens is stunning

Lintrathen Gardens is a multi-unit complex on a large site in Fendalton. Designed by David Sheppard of Sheppard & Rout Architects, it has been shortlisted for the local NZIA awards for 2018.

Lintrathen Gardens

Designed with the intention of articulating the complex interplay between natural elements and contemporary form, it is a refined example of modernist architecture.

Lintrathen Gardens Developer NewUrban Group was thrilled with the work of Sheppard & Rout, an award-winning architectural firm in the heart of the city. NewUrban Group Executive Chair Sir Bob Parker explains, “We wanted the architecture of this project front and centre and we believe that Sheppard & Rout are the best available – they have great works of legacy all over the city.
“David’s input was crucial to its success.”

Lintrathen Gardens Comprising two stand-alone residences and eight spacious townhouses, the homes are scattered amongst protected trees and all have access to the stream.
“They have the feeling of size without necessarily being large which seems to be what the market demands more and more. When I was training one of my favourite tutors said to me ‘with anything you design you should really enjoy living in it yourself’, and that approach remains with me,” David says.

Lintrathen Gardens “There is serenity in the complex. When it comes to design, simplicity is key, we are cautious of fads or fashions – we think of lasting quality, which drives from creating quality of space.”
The striking horizontal lines of the louvres and floating concrete steps up to the decks are eye-catching, yet timeless. This has been a project of excellence for all involved, the end result is a paradise.

Riverlands House

Clever corner construction: Riverlands House an outstanding triumph for Warren & Mahoney and ABL Construction

Handsome new commercial build Riverlands House is anchored on the corner of Victoria and Kilmore Streets, with prow pointed like an ocean liner toward the Port Hills. It is a striking addition to this prominent corner and shortlisted for the Commercial Category of the New Zealand Institute of Architecture (NZIA) Canterbury awards. The original building sat back on the site, but new city rules enabled the building to come forward to directly interface with the corner.

Riverlands House
Photo – Sarah Rowlands

Chris Dopheide, Architect at Warren and Mahoney Architects, says the building is a strong example of how to make the best use of a smaller inner-city site, with hospitality at ground floor level, offices in mid-levels and topped off with apartments, to provide living/working units.
Chris says the owner was keen on low maintenance: the external materials are a GRC concrete panel system on the Kilmore Street façade which is lightweight and efficient to construct and maintain. The Victoria Street frontage is faced with striking mesh-pattern panels to control the glare from morning sunlight streaming into the office areas. The top floor apartment is clad in Euroline Seamlock, again a practical, hardy, modular system that can be readily adapted.
Lead contractor for the project was South Island owned and operated ABL Construction (Amalgamated Builders Ltd) and General Manager Canterbury Michael Johnson says the synergies between the two multi-award-winning firms made their involvement a no-brainer.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Warren and Mahoney, especially on such a high-quality project,” he says.
“It was a very collaborative environment, with both companies focused on meeting the highest standards.”

Riverlands House
Photo – Sarah Rowlands


Established in 1961, ABL has achieved some of the highest accolades in the commercial contracting sector, including the New Zealand Commercial Projects Platinum Award – bestowed only on those who have won five or more national titles. The ABL team has won national awards across multiple categories including high end commercial projects, working with some of the country’s top architects.
“ABL has been around for 55 years now and during that time, we’ve been focused on open and transparent communication, working closely with the architect and client to ensure we’re delivering the highest quality iteration of exactly what they want.
“The end product speaks of Warren and Mahoney’s professional capabilities. They were brilliant to work with and Riverlands House is a fantastic addition to the city streetscape.”
The design captures quintessential Christchurch views, and the views from the apartment on top are pretty much 360 degrees. Chris’ favourite view is from the master bed and bath over Durham Street to the Port Hills, but the view from the west terrace across Hagley Park to the snow-capped mountains is pretty impressive too.

Riverlands House
Photo – Sarah Rowlands

Project Partners

  1. ABL Construction:
    Ph: 03-341 2160
  2. Warren and Mahoney:
    Ph: 03-961 5926
Forsyth Barr Stadium, photos courtesy of Dunedin Venues

It’s time to think big: Cymon Allfrey on the big thinking we need to embrace in the rebuild

Cymon Allfrey
Cymon Allfrey

Having missed out on hosting yet another big name, architect Cymon Allfrey highlights the importance of moving forward with our plans for a stadium.

It is without doubt that we are a city capable of hosting events, with the World Busker’s Festival, the Under 19 Cricket World Cup and the recent Black Caps/England Cricket test, as recent examples. However, our lack of facilities means we often miss out on events such as the upcoming Shania Twain tour or the recent Ed Sheeran South Island visit. While it is easy to see the potential economic loss we face as a result of no stadium, what we aren’t as quick to focus on, is the social impact.
Approaching it as an oppor-tunity, the Dunedin City Council thought big when it came to hosting Ed and, as a result, gained much more than economic success for their city.
They renamed the city DunEDin, closed streets and, with the addition of food stalls and street performers, achieved a wonderful party atmosphere. They approached the concerts like guests coming to dinner: they tidied up, set the table, put their best foot forward and enjoyed the fruits of their labour, achieving something truly special while propelling their city into the international spotlight, firmly establishing Dunedin as a destination and should be celebrated for their ambitious approach and innovative thinking.

Forsyth Barr Stadium, photos courtesy of Dunedin Venues
Forsyth Barr Stadium, photos courtesy of Dunedin Venues

What their success also highlighted was the need and importance of our stadium – or lack thereof. There is no doubt that our council needs to look beyond the cost to build the stadium and get going. In order to make Christchurch a destination, we need to establish ourselves as an attraction and give people a reason to return to our city, sooner rather than later.
We have all the facilities for tourists: beautiful restaurants, accommodation options, bars and retail, the operators of which have invested in our city. Now it is time for our city to invest in them and help draw the crowds.
With this in mind, we need to ask ourselves whether what we are planning is enough. Why are we not building something that will propel us into the spotlight and make Christchurch a true international destination? Perhaps we need to be more aspirational in our thinking – why not build towards the 2030 Commonwealth Games?

Thinking big The benefits, social and economic, are there for all to see – now we just need to get on and do it, all while ensuring we aren’t being shortsighted in the process. Let’s not continue to argue over a 35,000-seat stadium; we need to stretch ourselves and set Christchurch apart. It is no longer enough to replicate Dunedin’s stadium as they have proved they can offer both performers and visitors much more than a one-off concert; it’s the opportunity to experience an event.
Having personally experienced DunEDin, I would drive the ten hours there and back again tomorrow in order to do it all over. They aspire to host big names and in this case they rose to the challenge.
Dunedin had the foresight to see that the reward goes beyond the one-off monetary boost from a single event – the question is, can we? And how much more are we prepared to miss out on?

CREDIT FOR IMAGE: Zenhusen, by Mads Mandrup Hansen of C.F. Møller Architects

The missing middle: medium density housing and its ever growing need

In an age where sustainability is front of mind, and the Bank of Mum and Dad are becoming one of the country’s biggest lenders, medium density housing might just be the answer.

CREDIT FOR IMAGE: Zenhusen, by Mads Mandrup Hansen of C.F. Møller Architects
CREDIT FOR IMAGE: Zenhusen, by Mads Mandrup Hansen of C.F. Møller Architects

Affordable, sophisticated living with a strong focus on community and proximity to amenities, this architectural typology is definitely not short of fans offshore and is establishing itself as a smart living solution on home soil. Dubbed ‘the missing middle’, medium density is classified by the Ministry for Education as comprehensive developments including four or more dwellings with an average density of less than 350 m2 per unit.
In plain speak this translates to a new generation of housing that ticks all the boxes, something that is summarised best by Architectural Designers of New Zealand CEO Astrid Andersen. “When done well, medium density can benefit the whole of New Zealand; we see improved health outcomes, less car usage and less power usage. (It) meets the requirements of a diverse community with mixed housing options; creates communities; keeps New Zealand arable land for arable use and fulfils key sustainability principles.”
Explore Pinterest and Instagram for inspiration if you’re in the market for a new abode. You may have found your dream home with the missing middle.

Bob Burnett Architecture

A ‘superhome’ showcase: Bob Burnett Architecture features in Superhome Tours

Once again, the Superhome Tours will feature work by Bob Burnett Architecture, which is noted for both award-winning design and energy efficient, environmentally sound buildings.

Bob Burnett Architecture

Bob is dedicated to improving the quality and performance of homes, by encouraging people to see beyond the substandard building-code minimum. New Zealand has the highest rate of childhood asthma in the world, with 30 percent of our seven-year olds being afflicted and research has shown that our cold, damp houses are to blame.
Bob co-founded the Superhome Movement in 2015, to generate open source sharing of new design ideas, technologies and building techniques – connecting consumers and industry groups to achieve collaboration, resulting in higher building standards that are economic and socially sustainable.
Following on from the Superhome Movement’s hugely popular Superhome Tours in Christchurch in 2016/17, this year’s tours are taking place across New Zealand, providing an opportunity for both consumers and those working in the industry to learn more about what’s involved in designing and building warmer, dryer, healthier homes.
Research shows that more than 80 percent of people decide what to build after visiting a show home and, with 95 percent of homes being built by group home builders, the Superhome Tours offer a rare chance for the public to see warm, energy efficient homes that exceed the building code. Starting from 9 June, the Christchurch tours will take place over three weekends, with workshops to be held in the months following.
To get involved, go to or for more information visit

Tony Clarke of Ikon Architects

Creating communities: Columnist Tony Clarke from Ikon Architects on building relationships not just buildings

Tony Clarke of Ikon Architects
Tony Clarke of Ikon Architects

We recently wrote about the importance of fostering caring and inclusive communities as key to aged care design. IKON Architects believes strongly in this philosophy, so it has been rewarding to exercise our expertise and passion for creating quality retirement facilities, working with Bupa and Armitage Williams Construction designing the final stages of the Bupa Parkstone Retirement Village.

Tony Clarke of Ikon Architects
Bupa Parkstone Retirement Village

On the corner of Peer Street and Athol Terrace in Ilam, it includes three apartment blocks and a new dedicated Community Centre, featuring a large glazed community lounge, café, indoor pool and gym. This building links the existing community lounge with the refurbished main entry foyer and outdoor courtyard space, creating a central communal hub for the entire village community to enjoy.

The development will add approximately 140 new apartments to the site. Apartments are becoming more popular for retirement villages, with the higher density allowing for a larger, more diverse resident population, fostering a sense of community and greater security.
Standardised apartment planning and the innovative use of residential materials also results in high quality, low maintenance units that fit in with their residential context, without the worry or hassle of garden upkeep. In fact, here residents will be able to enjoy the landscaped communal outdoor areas designed by the team of Sean Dixon and Brad Parkes of Design Squared Landscape Architects.
With the first block of apartments now under construction and the community centre soon to commence, IKON Architects is excited to be a part of the final stages of what will be one of the city’s largest retirement villages.

MC Architecture Studio

Architectural artistry: MC Architecture Studio wins big at 2017 World Architecture News Awards

“I do truly believe in the importance of design – we sometimes underestimate the power of it,” says Max Capocaccia of MC Architecture Studio.

MC Architecture Studio

Fortunately, the judges at the 2017 World Architecture News Awards thoroughly understood the power of Max’s Black Door House’s design, awarding it first prize in the ‘Best Modern Method of Construction’ category, with the comment it “stands as an object of art overlooking the ocean”.
For Max, Black Door House was a favourite project long before it won an international award. It was christened when the original door was reshaped to incorporate the surrounding wall into its form. The door is of course black and towers at 2.9m tall, but it sits within a wall that echoes its geometric design. The curved entrance mirrors the sweep of Pegasus Bay from Whitewash Heads to Amberly Beach. Like an aeroplane wing, its upswept roof provides lift and thrust to the house, relating it to surrounding hills and valleys, reflecting the mountains across the bay and plains.

MC Architecture Studio
Constructed with a combination of timber frame, complex steel structure, and Structural Insulated Panels (SIP) supplied by MagRoc, the SIP system is a key component of the extraordinary thermal performance of the house. Rather than simply installing insulation between gaps in the framing leaving up to 20 percent of the walls and roof uninsulated, the SIP system insulates and clads the entirety of each wall.
MagRoc SIP homes have been tested down to 0.51 air changes per hour, in contrast to the standard 4.5 to 19 air changes per hour. The magnesium oxide internal panels provide additional thermal mass, absorbing excess heat during warmer times and releasing that heat when the ambient air temperature drops, maintaining more consistent internal temperatures.
The entrance of Black Door House is Max’s favourite, high ceilinged, the view unfolds just a few steps into the house. Glassforce created the glass and balustrade systems. A close relationship with MC Architecture is due to mutual unique design abilities, which found their first iteration in a loft home in Lyttelton where they designed, engineered, manufactured and installed a timber and glass sound reducing feature window that occupies the front wall.
Glassforce invented, patented, and trademarked a stunning glass system called Davantech, which requires zero mechanical fixing. Seismically superior, there is no point load so it is safe and easy to install. Both MC Architecture and Glassforce have offices in Italy, and together introduced the technologies invented in Christchurch. They are acclaimed there, as well as in Australia, America and the rest of Europe.
When choosing underfloor heating, both the architect and builder knew the client would be thrilled, not only now, but well into the future and there is special satisfaction for the company knowing it had not relied on an expensive system to win the award.

MC Architecture Studio advises anyone building a new home that they can put luxurious underfloor heating in it for only $100 per square metre. The economical installation cost plus the future ability to extend or add to the system means the home is set up for future additions and the homeowner will live in the ultimate in luxury warmth every winter.
The company provides exemplar systems with low running costs for luxurious home heating right from the outset through the installation of in-floor piping when the foundations are poured. Once installed, the benefits are reaped with the total capital and running cost.
While Max’s design stood out amongst the world’s best, he modestly assumed he wouldn’t win, sending a London-based colleague to the Gala Ceremony in London in his place. Max’s team replicates his approach: they must be “people who are open to the challenge of pushing boundaries but at the same time keep their feet on the ground”.
New technologies are a passion, but the aptitude for variety and the ability to accomplish a simple or traditional request is central to the practice.

Project Partners

  1. Warmth NZ Ltd
    Ph: 03 377 8026
  2. Magroc
    Ph: 03 423 9514
  3. Glass Force
    Ph: 03 384 3077
O'Neil Architecture

People make the place: O’Neil Architecture

When people think of O’Neil Architecture, it might conjure up images of its award-winning homes scattered throughout New Zealand, or perhaps founder and Principle Designer Darren O’Neil springs to mind.

O'Neil Architecture

However, there is a team of talented folk behind the scenes who passionately bring clients’ visions and dream homes to life – guiding clients through the rollercoaster journey that is designing and building their new home and which has helped build the successful and recognised name ‘O’Neil Architecture’ as it stands today.
A tight knit team of eight, the boutique office offers a very personalised high-end service. Senior Designer, David Rea, leads the technical team, collaborating on the designs with Darren for more than 13 years. Their robust, comprehensive approach has been refined over the years; they complement each other, continually questioning and pushing the boundaries to create truly inspired, timeless and elegant homes.
“Clichéd as it sounds, a successful company and the incredible work that is produced is built from the inside out,” David says.
With a positive and challenging working environment and a relaxed atmosphere, it’s obvious why there is such low staff turnover in an age where professionals tend to jump ship every 2-4 years.
So much so that Practice Manager Lucy Ross works from Auckland, commuting weekly after recently moving cities – neither party wanted a complete break! “It’s fantastic to be working for such a flexible and modern company that values and invests in its staff and understands if they’re happy and appreciated, it’s going to show through their work.”

Christchurch City

Falling into line: Cymon Allfrey on why good things take time (even when you wish they wouldn’t)

Architect Cymon Allfrey explains why following the rules ultimately leads to a more successful outcome – for us and our city.

Christchurch City
Cymon Allfrey

There will always be red tape. The processes required to reach an outcome at times can seem onerous, cumbersome and tedious – yet the role of rules in society creates order, structure and, in terms of architecture, often a stronger, more successful outcome.

A question was raised recently on an online forum whether there was too much red tape being applied in the design of the central city when it came to illuminated signage. And that as a result of this red tape, we were diminishing our ability to achieve a vibrant and engaging city.
Taking into consideration a number of factors, including the affect these signs have on drivers, our city plan doesn’t favour intermittent lights or flashing neon signs. Rather it has a focus on creating sophisticated characteristics and high quality built spaces.
When looking at our city we need to be careful that we aren’t confusing energy with tricks and props. The energy comes, and will continue to come from, quality retailers, diverse businesses and residential development. All of which reside within smart, high quality design, there to create a level of interaction and engagement with the surrounding space.

Christchurch City
Photo supplied by

We have to achieve a well-planned and considered central city, before we can dress it up. Inherently the city needs to perform well to attract the people and the energy; without this no matter how we decorate it, the energy and vibrancy will fail to thrive. Factors that the red tape ensures are placed first on the priority list.
There is no denying over the last couple of years that we have seen a shift away from static billboards to more interactive, digital replacements. I am absolutely in favour of seeing some embellishment through digital signage, as it can help to create a more dynamic building façade, and bring a different dimension and atmosphere to a space at night that couldn’t be achieved without it. Yet we need to ensure we don’t become a city of advertisements; a city of visual pollution and no substance.
If we consider London’s Piccadilly Circus or New York’s Times Square, these are concentrated deliveries of moving signage, there to create atmosphere. Their visual aspect has made them a destination, yet they are examples of highly considered spaces where the quality has been enhanced through layers of embellishment.
No matter what you dress a space up with, unless it has been designed correctly there will be no engagement. Cathedral Square is an example where a lack of considered design has created a space that is too large for regular engagement and high levels of energy. Unlike the prequake central city laneways, which were highly successful spaces bursting with activity.
We are on the right track to achieve a vibrant and energetic city centre, we just have a process to go through to get there. The presence of red tape allows everyone to have an opinion, while the ongoing parameters it brings ensures we have the building blocks to achieve a city of integrity, quality and engagement.