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.
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.”
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.
Home to one of the most significant collections of heritage buildings in New Zealand, The Arts Centre is a must visit for fans of beautiful architecture – particularly those with an interest in the distinctive Gothic Revival style.
Photographer Johannes van Kan had front row seats to the buildings’ extensive restoration after they suffered extensive damage in the Canterbury earthquakes.
Did you have any ties to The Arts Centre prior to this project?
I had previously photographed events and people around The Arts Centre but nothing actually for The Arts Centre itself.
What was it like having the freedom to observe the restoration through your lens rather than being told specifically what to photograph?
The freedom allowed me to be expressive. It allowed me to discover images. It was unique as an opportunity and I was very fortunate to be part of it.
A lot of the images displayed in your exhibition at Pūmanawa earlier this year were black and white – what was the reason behind that?
Black and white imagery has a simplicity that is very much about using light to tell a story without the complications of colour. Actually, my biggest bugbear was orange cones.
Do you think the public understands the amount of work going into the restoration at The Arts Centre?
I would be surprised if many people had a full idea of what’s really involved. It is a huge project made up of many parts with many experts bringing everything together. There were unique skills like lead working and heritage masonry work, combined with modern engineering technology. There were multiple construction companies dealing with complicated strengthening and restoration. If there was another earthquake, I would go to The Arts Centre to be safe.
Did you learn some interesting stories about the buildings or tenants who used to occupy them?
The Arts Centre is full of stories of what people used to do there. The stories I was most interested in were those told by what was left behind in the spaces immediately after the earthquakes.
What were some of the challenges of shooting photographs on an active worksite?
Being aware of health and safety was the main one. There was dust everywhere and changing lenses was always a concern. Working in this environment is all about respect. It was important that I had as little impact as possible on the imagery aside from being the observer.
Did you gain an understanding of the stonemasons’ craft?
To understand stonemasonry, you need to wield the tools. You need to strike the stone with chisels. You need to cut, lift, sweat and breathe in the dust – through a mask, of course. I saw what they did and was aware of the care they took but it would take a lot more to understand stonemasonry.
Since 2011 the directors of ABI Piers have managed commercial and residential earthquake repairs and rebuilds throughout Christchurch. With more than 40 years’ experience in construction, Chris and Nigel Colenso saw that large commercial buildings had expensive base isolation systems to protect them from earthquake damage, but there was no cost-effective system to protect smaller buildings.
To fill that gap in the market, they developed three versions of the ABI Piers foundation system to suit most locations. During severe earthquakes, the ABI Piers foundation system protects buildings, occupants and contents, preventing the full force of the quake affecting the house. The support springs flex and re-centre the building while soaking up seismic energy.
Theunis Klok, an Engineering Technologist at Callaghan Innovation, is having the system installed under his home. “I first heard about the ABI Piers system at my workplace when Chris came to show us the technology,” Theunis says.
“It appealed to me because I never want to go through the stress, financial hardship and unnecessary cost [of an earthquake] ever again. ABI Piers will permanently repair the earthquake damaged foundation of my house and ‘future proof’ my biggest investment.
“I believe the ABI Piers system is better than alternative foundations currently on the market and the cost compares really well.”
The system has been tested by BRANZ as compliant with the New Zealand Building Code. If post-earthquake relevelling of the home is required, the piers are easily relevelled and height adjusted back to as new position. Visit www.abipiers.com.
There would be few developments in the emerging city, in which the goal is to change as little as possible. But that was the brief for Ōtākaro Limited, when it came to the restoration of Victoria Square.
In fact, when it comes to projects, this is one in the developmental spotlight – both in the figurative and literal sense of the expression – with the urban green space home to Australasia’s first illuminated electric fountain, the Bowker Fountain.
The 13-month restoration project was delivered by Ōtākaro Limited on behalf of the Crown, in collaboration with Christchurch City Council and Matapopore on behalf of Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāi Tahu.
“The Canterbury earthquakes left Victoria Square in a poor condition, with uneven paved surfaces creating ponding areas, trip hazards and subsidence issues in this popular public space,” Ōtākaro Chief Executive Albert Brantley says.
“By replacing the 170,000 pavers and installing around three kilometres of new underground pipe and cabling for upgraded irrigation, drainage and lighting, Victoria Square’s lifespan has been extended for decades and it is safer and more accessible.”
A new punt stop opposite the Town Hall will enable people to make greater use of the Avon River and Victoria Square will now tie in with the river promenade currently under construction.
The restoration of Victoria Square and the repair and upgrading of the adjoining sections of Colombo Street and Armagh Street has cost around $12.7m. The roadworks will be finished in May.
When Linda Horan and Jim Mitchell moved to their new home in Woolston in 2004, they intended to stay there for life. It was shiny and new, and closer to work and family.
Like so many however, they experienced significant disruption in the earthquakes and thus began a long process to find resolution. They considered several options but wanted to stay in Woolston. The house had sunk 100mm and suffered serious cracks in the foundation slab. They had plans drawn up for a rebuild.
Then they contacted Precision Solutions, a foundation and floor relevelling specialist which had done some work for Linda’s niece, who had been thoroughly impressed. Precision Solutions put together a plan to repair Jim and Linda’s house, simpler, less expensive and quicker than the proposed rebuild. The plan was to lift the house back to where it should be. Simple.
“Fundamentally,” says Precision Solutions Contract Manager, Charles Porter, “It’s quite a simple process. Physically however, it’s a bit more complicated.”
The whole lifting and relevelling process took three weeks. Most of the time was spent in preparation, clearing the house, digging underpinning holes and pouring lifting pads. The house was then lifted and levelled, millimetres at a time.
After some other renovations, Jim and Linda were back in their home after only 12 weeks. “We’re so happy with it,” Linda says. “Precision’s people were very thorough. They worked every day. They were never late and, what they said they’d do, they did. Sometimes they stayed late to finish what they were doing. We were very impressed with their attitude, and their price was $18,000 cheaper than another reputable competitor.”
The team at Home Trends Builders is keeping its sunglasses handy and polished as the future keeps getting brighter. Each project is something a little different, driven by co-owners Peter and Elaine DeGouw’s enthusiasm for bringing inspirational, great-looking homes relevant to the Christchurch market, to fruition.
Peter says the company focuses on building, “homes that will be iconic in the future”.
They have just completed one such project in Naseby Street, where the original historic mansion, defeated by the earthquakes, has been replaced by two absolutely remarkable modern homes.
The pair of houses are very different from the usual cookie-cutter architectural homes in Merivale. They incorporate natural materials including cedar, a lightweight designer stone panel board exclusive to New Zealand Brick and Stone, Onyx concrete blocks, with black monolithic louvre blades that transcend two storeys. The overall effect is stunning, people are talking, and one of the homes is waiting patiently for its lucky new owners.
Three Wai-iti Terrace sites host both single and two storey homes, some of which have sold before consent, illustrating Home Trends’ ability to anticipate the needs of the market. Five entries will grace the New Zealand Master Builders House of the Year 2018 competition, including the front house at Naseby Street, Totara and Tui Street homes, plus multi-units at Prestons – a local category that Home Trends won last year.
After 30 years, Peter knows what works and knows the special people that live here. You’ll still find him on site every day, monitoring the builds and making clients happy.
Enjoying the landmark of 20 years in business in Christchurch, David Whyte, Director of Whyte Construction is reflecting on achievements past, plus looking forward enthusiastically to the next score of years.
Post-earthquakes, David is proud to have thousands of satisfied customers. While residual earthquake repairs are now more complex and the team continues helping Kaikoura clients, the company is also ‘full steam ahead’ on client projects, driven by passion rather than need. Original and repeat clients have been waiting patiently for the peak of earthquake work to pass, so they can carry out alterations, extensions and new builds.
Residential projects are core, from entry level, to large scale hillside architectural homes such as Kiteroa Terrace, pictured. But at any one time the company will be deeply involved in a great diversity of work, with current projects including recladding a university hostel and alterations to a funeral home. Weathertight homes are also a specialty. “We are excellent at solutions,” David says. “We are not into mass housing, but we are competitive with them.”
There are no packages. “It’s bespoke to your needs, from end to end.”
Your single point of contact is a trade qualified project manager who is experienced, personable, and both quality and service-driven. Low staff turnover is a source of pride – the team is highly skilled and dynamic, and loves new ventures and problem solving.
“We assist and guide clients in a way that enables them to come out of their comfort zones.”
The team loves “the delight in people’s faces, when they see what they have achieved”.