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Regenerate Christchurch

City’s ‘living laboratory’: Christchurch is leading the way post-quake towards a cleaner and greener tomorrow

A green spine extending from the city to sea is poised to set Christchurch apart as a place that is prepared to explore new ways of living with nature – from adaptive housing to sustainable urban agriculture.

Walkways and biking tracks, wetland developments and a variety of other public and private land uses are included in a shortlist of potential options for an area of land known as the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor.
Formerly Christchurch’s ‘residential red zone’, the 11-kilometre stretch of land is nearly twice the size of New York’s Central Park and four times the size of London’s Hyde Park.
Regenerate Christchurch is responsible for developing the regeneration plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor and says a mix of naturally-occurring and new activities has potential to attract up to a million unique visitors a year.
A “green spine” will extend along the river, up to 150 metres wide on each side, with large areas of ecological restoration, wetlands and community spaces. Elsewhere, there will be three significant areas suitable for a variety of potential public and private land uses reflecting themes of food and culture, experiencing nature and activity and play.
“These will create opportunities for school children and researchers to learn about the natural environment to better understand the challenges and opportunities within a truly living laboratory,” Regenerate Christchurch Chief Executive Ivan Iafeta says.
Regenerate Christchurch has developed a refined shortlist that will feature in an upcoming public exhibition. Ivan says implementation of the plan is likely to be the beginning of a 30-year intergenerational programme of work.

The former Christchurch Re:START Mall

Container mall’s new northern home: Re:START makes it’s way up the coast to quake stricken Kaikoura

Right from square one, the Re:START mall was an out of the box response to the urgent post-quake need for retail space in the city’s heart. And, although only ever intended as a temporary solution, the ‘container mall’ concept’s 2011 opening struck a local chord.

The former Christchurch Re:START Mall
The former Christchurch Re:START Mall

The brightly coloured containers quickly became an internationally-recognisable symbol of post-quake innovation before they were removed to make way for the Riverside Farmers’ Market due to open early next year.
Now upcycled shipping containers from the popular mall have found a new home in Kaikōura’s main street. Known as Uplift Kaikōura, the container mall’s northern incarnation is the brainchild of local business owners whose buildings were damaged in the Kaikōura quake in 2016.


The precinct opened at the end of last year on an empty site in the centre of town and is home to Gecko Gearz, Paper Plus and Ocean Arts, with a fourth business joining in soon.
Gecko Gearz owner Penny Betts says Uplift stands on the site where the grand Adelphi Hotel stood for 96 years before being demolished after the 2016 quake.
“We are so fortunate to have these containers in Kaikōura,” Penny says.
“A good mix of travellers are shopping at the site and we’ve had very positive feedback and support from locals and Kiwis travelling through.”
Much like its former incarnation, feedback has been extremely positive. “People are constantly telling me it has given the town life, a really good vibe and shows we are moving forward and staying positive albeit challenging times,” she says.
“There’s a lovely green area in the centre, which has some picnic tables and a giant Connect Four game. It is great to see people relaxing in the area and quite a few of the local teens come and play the Connect Four.”
Uplift was predominantly privately-funded with some public donations from a Givealittle fundraising page.
Meanwhile in Christchurch, the Riverside Farmers’ Market is expected to be made up of five low-rise buildings with more than 80 market stalls, with 10,000 square metres of floor space and balconies overlooking three new laneways.
Inspired by European markets in cities like Copenhagen, the $80 million plan headed by developer Richard Peebles includes restaurants, food stalls and shops, fashion stores and offices, and is expected to be a breakthrough for the western end of Christchurch’s retail precinct.
“Farmers’ markets are the heart and soul of a city,” Peebles said when he unveiled plans for the development. “It’s where people naturally congregate and come together as a community.”
Building commenced earlier this year, with the complex earmarked for completion by 1 November 2018. The quick build time aims to minimise disruption for central city retailers.

Affordable Concrete and Paving

Firm foundations: Affordable Concrete and Paving

Affordable Concrete and Paving is going from strength to strength. Since inception more than 30 years ago, the company has cemented its reputation as a leader in the landscaping industry, rebuilding Christchurch one pour of cement at a time.

Affordable Concrete and Paving

From a residential driveway repair, right up to civil or commercial ventures, including car parks, concrete floors and kerbing, Affordable Concrete and Paving, as its name suggests, offers quality workmanship with competitive pricing.
The company knows the building process inside and out, and the experienced team can provide your project with all your driveway landscaping or repair needs. There is a no obligation pricing service available and quotes can be provided onsite or from plans.

Affordable Concrete and Paving Being a family business with strong Canterbury roots, Affordable Concrete and Paving has been involved in its fair share of earthquake rebuild projects. The team knows and understands just how stressful and messy people’s experiences can be and works with you every step of the way, whether on resurfacing, excavation, landscaping or crack repair.
Want to know more? Head to for more information or to chat with a member of the team about your next big concrete project, phone 03-354 2140.

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?

Photography by Johannes van Kan

An arty restoration: Photographer Johannes van Kan captures The Arts Centre coming back to life

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.

Photography by Johannes van Kan
Photography by Johannes van Kan

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.

Photography by Johannes van Kan
Photography by Johannes van Kan

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.

Photography by Johannes van Kan
Photography by Johannes van Kan

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.

Photography by Johannes van Kan
Photography by Johannes van Kan

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.

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.

Welles Street - Jason Mann Photography

Tackling city’s too hard basket: how Box 112’s focus landed on the grungier side of the rebuild (and we’re so glad it did)

‘Beautiful character and heritage spaces in central Christchurch’. That’s the tagline. But in reality, Box 112’s day to day is much grittier. Think clearing out an old welder’s workshop, strengthening an abandoned heritage building and retrofitting a former grocery distribution centre.

Welles Street - Jason Mann Photography
Welles Street – Jason Mann Photography

The company, which buys, fits out and leases buildings in Christchurch, is all about tackling the city’s ‘too hard basket’ when it comes to development, says partner James Stringer. “Buildings are not just spaces, they have memories attached to them.”
Stringer joined Box 112 in 2016 after his colleagues Sam Rofe and Rob Farrell set it up a year prior. As a director of the Christchurch Heritage Trust, he was excited to steer away from new builds and tackle projects others might overlook.
“When you go overseas to any major city, you’ll often find the real soul of the city is always a few streets back – it’s the places the tourists hunt out, it’s the places the locals go.
“We can’t go down the road of a utopian city, we have to remember that grit and intrigue is what makes a city. Pockets, things for everyone.”
Stringer says he, Rofe and Farrell look at some of Christchurch’s less-than-desirable buildings, including those historically used for industrial purposes. “We hunt buildings that are really well located and have a story. Some of them are pretty tricky, they’re often tied up in insurance disputes. We really admire people who have held on to them for so long,” he says.
Box 112 finds investors for each development and co-owns the buildings. Its portfolio includes a rubber mouldings factory which is now a coffee shop and roastery (The Anchorage) and a grocery distribution centre turned bar and eatery (Welles Street).
The company is also repurposing six former industrial buildings in Welles Street. The complex, which will be home to a mix of artisan businesses, is named The Welder after another long-standing tenant. Stringer says buildings from the 1950s and 1960s are just as important to Christchurch’s history as those marked with the heritage stamp.

James Stringer, Photo supplied by Box 112
James Stringer, Photo supplied by Box 112

“The easy option is to bulldoze them and start again, but as the city grows and fills in we’ll just never get an opportunity to get these kinds of buildings back. They are actually going to be our future heritage buildings – as crazy as it sounds. They will be very iconic amongst the sea of glass.”
The Anchorage, Welles Street, Supreme Supreme and The Welder are all part of an area of town Box 112 has branded ‘South Town’, “an area of the city that has always had more grit and intrigue to it,” Stringer says.
Box 112 is also developing Christchurch’s five-storey former Public Trust Building, which has been awarded a $1.9m heritage grant from the Christchurch City Council.
“We are always looking to partner with interesting local and national businesses that are looking for an authentic and unique space to leverage off.”

The Terrace

King of the rebuild: we talk to Antony Gough about The Terraces and his take on post-quake Christchurch

The recent opening of The Terraces represents a formative moment in our long rebuild process. Replacing our late-lamented ‘Strip’, not only literally and physically, but viscerally in both hearts and minds, it symbolises the awakening of the city from its developmental coma.

The Terrace
Antony Gough

One of so many wonderful new builds in the city, the very public yet very personally passionate, process of bringing The Terrace to life gives it a talismanic feel, symbolising the strength and confidence, leadership and faith it has taken to get to this point.
Forged in the fire of Antony Gough’s vision, The Terrace, a glamourous and aesthetically pleasing precinct featuring innovative, thoughtful design, has brought this city section to life again, with twenty different hospitality environments open with minimum hours of 11am – 11 pm seven days, plus commercial space.
It wouldn’t be out of line to describe Antony Gough as the King of the rebuild. We talk to Antony about his milestone.

The Terrace has been a labour of love for you, how does it feel to have all that hard work and dedication now coming to fruition with the new bars now starting to open?

A huge relief and very exciting seeing it all come together.

How do you think the overall rebuild is going?

The private sector is going very well, though it has taken longer than any of us would have expected. The Anchor Projects however need to get a hurry along.

What are some of your favourite buildings or developments – both old and new?

The Terraces – particularly the wooden building – The Arts Centre, Deloitte House, The Crossing with its variety, Stranges Lane and the Bus Exchange.

What do you see as some of the challenges facing the city as we move forward?

I worry that all the cycle lanes may make travel by cars, trucks and buses too difficult. The Anchor Projects and the CBD housing are progressing too slowly.

What do you think we’ve done well at as a city throughout the rebuild process?

The Avon River precinct and Earthquake Memorial are excellent! Getting our sewerage and water systems back to normal as well.

What do you love about Christchurch and, as a developer, what makes you choose to stay here?

Christchurch is a city of huge opportunities. A brand new CBD surrounded by an exciting housing population, it is now getting a real sense of vibrancy.

What does the rest of 2018 have in store for you?

I have a car parking building to build and then I need to bed down The Terrace Precinct. This won’t happen by accident, it needs lots of planning and hard work behind the scenes.

Whyte Construction

A Landmark Milestone: Whyte Construction looks back on their contributions to the post-quake rebuild

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.

Whyte Construction

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”.