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Is Affordable Architecture an Oxymoron?



Look at the cookie cutter houses in some of the new subdivisions and you may not have found architectural inspiration, but there is reason behind some of the repetition of form. A particular roof pitch and a 600mm eave mean that there will be no cladding above the windows. A certain floor plan will mean the ratio of wall area to house area is low. These tried and tested recipes, along with building code minimums, produce affordability. Mess with it and you might mess with the budget.

So, what do you do when you want more in terms of aesthetics and lifestyle? At the other end is the architectural approach, where high ideas and custom craftmanship with the best materials create buildings that are almost sculpture first, home second. But who can afford that? If one is trying to stick to a modest budget, it is important to get one’s priorities straight in order to spend money in the right areas.

You might keep the floor plan small with perhaps smaller bedrooms and a good size open plan living area. Timber, although expensive, brings warmth to a surrounding, but it could be limited to the areas you will experience, say the entry to the house and outdoor living, rather than a wholesale approach. Being careful with the simplicity of form, but utilising good proportion makes the design buildable. A sensitivity to this balance of cost versus architecture is what a good designer will be able to guide you through to achieve exciting, affordable outcomes.


Ben Brady
By Linetype Architectural Director & Designer Ben Brady


Salted Butterscotch and Jazz Apple Crumble Recipe

I’ve partnered with the team at JAZZ Apples to create an incredibly simple oaty butterscotch and apple crumble.


Serves 4-6 | By Gretchen Houston


New season JAZZ Apples are grown in sun-drenched Nelson and Hawkes Bay orchards creating a tangy-sweet flavour that cuts through the caramel for a not-too-sweet (but rich) dessert. I’ve cheated and used store bought caramel but you could equally make your own using brown sugar and butter.




Topping ingredients:
1⁄2 cup flour
1⁄4 cup brown sugar
Pinch of sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
100g cold butter, cubed
1⁄2 cup rolled oats
Filling ingredients:
6 JAZZ Apples, peeled, cored and chopped
2⁄3 cup caramel (I used Highlander caramel)
Pinch of sea salt
30g butter, chopped




1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. For the topping, combine the flour, brown sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a bowl.

3. Add the butter cubes and rub into dry ingredients to resemble breadcrumbs.

4. Stir in the oats, then set aside in a fridge while you cut the apples.

5. Toss the chopped apples well with the caramel sauce and salt.

6. Split the mixture between 4-6 ramekins, top each with a knob of butter then sprinkle the oaty topping evenly all over each.

7. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the apples are bubbling and the crumble is golden brown.

8. Serve with lots of ice cream.


Keto Peanut Butter Blondies: Two Ways!

Every time I go keto, I always want a sweet fix at some point. Over the years I’ve really tried it all! But this delicious recipe ticks so many of the boxes. I feel like it’s pretty hard to get it wrong when you’re combining peanut butter and chocolate. Or peanut butter and jam – but that’s my personal opinion.

By Elora Harre – The Shrinking Violet




1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
1 tbsp coconut cream
1/2 cup Erythritol (I get mine from Nourish & Thrive)
130g smooth peanut butter (I use Pics)
2 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp vanilla extract
130g almond flour (again, I get mine from Nourish & Thrive)
Pinch of salt
3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup 70% dark chocolate chips (I use 70% dark chocolate chips from Nourish & Thrive)
OR 1/4 cup mixed berries, frozen
OR 2 tbsp Barkers Spreadable Fruit (It’s refined sugar free!)



  1. Preheat your oven to 180°C. Line a square brownie tin with baking paper. Set aside.

  2. Add coconut oil, coconut cream, erythritol and peanut butter to a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. I used my new KitchenAid with the paddle attachment.

  3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each until completely incorporated. Add vanilla.

  4. Add the almond flour, salt and baking powder and mix again until completely incorporated. Here you will either mix in your chocolate chips, or set the mixture aside and prepare your “jam.” Alternatively if you are using the Barkers Spreadable Fruit, you can now pour your mixture into the prepared pan and dollop this on top of your blondie mix, using the back of a spoon to swirl it into the top of your blondie.

  5. If making the jam, place the berries in a bowl and microwave for a minute. Using a fork, squish the berries until they form a paste with their juice. If they have too much liquid, simply pour some off. Spread these across the top of your blondie mixture.

  6. Once you’ve decided which option to go for (they’re ALL amazing!), place your blondie into the oven to bake for 20-25 minutes, until the centre is just set. This varies a lot from oven to oven, so when you make them the first time, start checking from 15 minutes onwards. They will continue to cook slightly once removed from the oven.

  7. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely. Cut into 16 pieces and store in an airtight container. These also freeze really well!


Ivan Iafeta

Ivan Iafeta: The Influencers

We will all have noticed that it’s dark later in the mornings and earlier in the evenings now that autumn is taking hold and the winter months are on the way.


Ivan Iafeta
Regenerate Christchurch CEO

While this can be a positive thing for winter sports enthusiasts and those who like to spend time at the numerous ski areas on Christchurch’s doorstep, it represents the beginning of what we know will be a challenging period for some businesses in the central city.

A lot has been said about the increased activity that has been visible over summer and I share that enthusiasm. I will always be a champion for Christchurch and the commitment our private and public sectors have made to its regeneration. But we, as a community, cannot sit back and think the job is done.

We are already seeing signs that some businesses in the central city have struggled – even during the busier summer season – with a small number of closures recently in the retail and hospitality sectors.
Pre-earthquake, these may have been seen as demonstrations of the risk associated with individual commercial ventures. But, in the current environment, they represent a broader challenge – for which there is no single remedy.

A component of our work this year is identifying opportunities for Christchurch to maximise the return on investment in anchor projects and other private sector developments. For example, what unintended consequences of current planning regulations could easily be addressed to leverage the investment over and above the immediate benefits of a new amenity?


If you have any ideas, email me at


Nick Doig

Nick Doig: The Influencers

CBD retail has enjoyed a positive start to 2019, with a very definite lift in interest from retailers eyeing Christchurch.


Nick Doig
Director of Retail Leasing
Colliers International, Christchurch

It’s been a waiting game up until now, with many of the larger players wanting to see the shape of the new CBD. But they’re clearly encouraged by what’s happening. Among recent retailers to sign in the city centre are Mi Piaci and Vodafone in Cashel Mall who will join Moochi and Nespresso in the new Guthrey Centre development; and Decjuba, Oobe and KFC in Colombo Street.

Progress on Riverside Retail & Farmers Market is well advanced with Ben & Jerry’s one of the latest signings. They will join homegrown brands Sergios Menswear, Alchemy and Cosmic. In total, there will be 30 independent food outlets, 40 fresh produce stalls and 15 retail boutiques. Due to open in September, this will be a fantastic boost to the western end of Cashel Mall.

Other exciting developments to come onstream towards the end of 2019 include Spark House at 2 Cathedral Square that incorporates dramatic retail space at ground level with a designated rooftop bar/restaurant. Work is already well advanced with completion due in October.

Directly opposite, work has recently begun on world renowned architect Shigeru Ban’s Braided Rivers project for Aotea Gifts, which will be an architectural gem on the Christchurch landscape. Both sites enjoy high profile on the corner of Cathedral Square, Colombo and Herford Streets.

Hopefully a sign of good things to come with the much needed revitalisation of Cathedral Square.



Dr Megan Woods

Dr Megan Woods: The Influencers

Recently we reached a major milestone in the Canterbury recovery, with Christchurch City Council being given back control over their district planning process years ahead of schedule.


Dr Megan Woods
Dr Megan Woods,
Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister


I’m a strong believer that the best future for Christchurch is one where we return to local leadership over the future of our city and that’s why I was incredibly proud to announce the return of the planning powers to the council.

Following the earthquakes, special emergency planning processes were implemented that suspended certain RMA processes in the interest of speed and certainty during the rebuild. Eight years on, we are now able to return to the same planning processes that other cities use.

It’s a powerful signal that Christchurch is moving out of its rebuild phase and looking to its future as New Zealand’s thriving second city.

Putting this change in place meant revocation of the Canterbury Earthquake (Christchurch Replacement District Plan) Order 2014 which took effect from 18 March 2019. The council can now revert to normal planning processes to manage its District Plan and it also means that the people of Christchurch, along with the council, will be able to initiate changes to the District Plan. They’ll be able to submit on proposed changes, attend hearings and participate in proposing amendments.

I’m delighted that we have been able to meet this milestone more than two years ahead of schedule. It’s a significant step in the transition back to local leadership and a great sign of momentum in our regeneration.




Leeann Watson

Leeann Watson: The Influencers

We recently welcomed the Right Hon Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister at a Chamber event in Ōtautahi Christchurch.


Leeann Watson
Canterbury Employers’ Chamber of Commerce
Chief Executive

In her address, the Prime Minister shared the Government’s main economic objectives for 2019, which included strengthening the export base, trade training, a review of the tax system, and investing in wellbeing ahead of the Budget.

As an Employers’ Chamber, we have been very active in working with the Government and advocating around these issues and others that affect local business, such as skills shortages, which continue to be a challenge for business (and even more so in a rapidly evolving world of technology, AI and automation).

The recent announcement on vocational educational reform is another topic we are taking an active interest in, to ensure our future education system is fit-for-purpose for a rapidly changing future, and to provide training for young people and those already in employment.

We also need immigration policy that supports economic growth and accommodates regional differences. Investment in our transport networks and infrastructure, particularly regional areas, is becoming increasingly important for business to move their goods and deal with increasing tourism numbers.

We will also be closely watching upcoming employment legislation changes, particularly in relation to the fair pay agreements, which we don’t believe will contribute to a future focused, productive economy.
In the Canterbury region, we are all too aware of the need to build resilience in our economy and key to this is having a Government that acts as an enabler for business.



Craig South

Balancing architecture with interior design: Craig South

Rather than treating interior design as a finishing touch, architect Craig South suggests a collaborative approach can be much more effective.


Craig South


Architects and interior designers have traditionally tended to work apart but, in my experience, it’s far better to have both on the same page and working together from an early stage. Having a shared design vision is the best guarantee of an inspiring outcome.

There may be a perception that the architect’s job stops at the front door, yet more often than not external form flows through to the interior and this, in turn, will influence how the interior comes together. Good communication between the architect and interior designer ensures both can be focussed on the same goal of creating spaces that people will enjoy living in. That means spaces that are functional and that will work well with a building’s form and aesthetics.

When an architect and interior designer are in sync over key decisions, such as what materials will be used, a high level of overall consistency can be achieved. Built-in features like window seats are a good example of how interior design and architecture can be linked in this way. Some might see them as a bit of a throwback, but window seats are great for storage and, if built in the right places, offer lovely little spots for enjoying views and sun. Similarly, built-in bookshelves and places for ornaments really help breathe life and personality into a home.


Craig South


When planning a new home, I’d suggest getting an interior designer on board as early as possible to kick start these positive design synergies, even if all you have is a concept drawing. Decisions on smart use of space for storage – or how best to frame views or site a fireplace – can be made in unison and with the client’s needs front and centre. Involving the interior designer early also streamlines their own decision-making on furnishing and finishing.

In my day to day practice, I am privileged to work alongside an in-house interiors team and find that being able to bounce ideas between us is very helpful to the overall design process. We also collaborate with other interior designers at various stages of our projects and find that to be invaluable to the end result.

Take something as specific as a kitchen: it makes sense to bring the architect and interior designer together and let them know exactly how you want that space to perform. You can even show them where you envisage standing at your kitchen bench. A good mutual understanding of the space being created will get you off to a flying start.


Craig South


What we constantly strive to do in our own practice, as architects and designers, is to create playful, easy to use spaces. Our goal is not simply to create houses as shelter, but homes with personality that include all those special bespoke touches that add up to an enjoyable way of life.


Architect Craig South
Craig South


At its best, architecture and interior design are a kind of ‘pas de deux’, both working in tandem to produce a harmonised whole.


Ivan Iafeta

The Influencers: Ivan Iafeta

Like the Arts Centre, the Christchurch Town Hall holds many special memories for people and its re-opening is a significant milestone in the city’s recovery.


Ivan Iafeta
Regenerate Christchurch CEO

Completion of the new Spark building, the Aotea Gifts building and Convention Centre are further milestones on the horizon. The activity at the Town Hall from now on will be a significant new element of the city’s regeneration. In just the next couple of months some of the performers taking to the stage include Shapeshifter and the CSO, Marlon Williams, organist Martin Setchell, The Broods, Charley Pride, Norah Jones and The Proclaimers.

Each of these varied performances, and the rest, will bring people into the central city – many of whom will start their evening at one of the inner-city bars and restaurants, or head there afterwards. But it is perhaps later in the year, when the Christchurch Schools’ Music festival returns to the Town Hall, that sentimental thoughts will be their strongest.

The festival, which is in its 80th year, was held at the Town Hall from the early 1970s until 2010. In early November, across three nights, more than 4,000 young singers from more than 100 schools will come together. Anyone who has had an involvement with the festival in some shape or form over the years will appreciate the significance of its return to Kilmore Street.

The Town Hall’s re-opening, like all milestones, is to be celebrated and, on behalf of the Regenerate Christchurch team, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate everyone who has been involved.



John Bridgman

The Influencers: John Bridgman

I hope you’ve taken the opportunity over summer to walk along the City Promenade which we completed and opened in November.

John Bridgman
Ōtākaro Limited Chief Executive

The Promenade is a significant part of Te Papa Ōtākaro/Avon River Precinct but there are three outstanding pieces of work for us to carry out this year to complete this Anchor Project.

The first is the Avon Loop, a simple riverside pathway from Kilmore Street to Fitzgerald Avenue that will connect the City Promenade to the future developments in the Residential Red Zone and provide a link to the eastern cycleway.

We are currently finalising the proposed design for this pedestrian and cycle path, but it will be different to the Promenade and complement the greenery of the area rather than incorporating the paving that’s better suited to the CBD.
The second element is a pedestrian bridge in the North Frame connecting Cambridge and Oxford Terraces. This bridge will give the residents and businesses in the area seamless access to the City Promenade.

The final features to complete the Avon River Precinct are the relocation of the ‘Lift’ sculpture to the corner of Kilmore and Madras, and the installation of a new artwork called Mana Motuhake in Victoria Square, to acknowledge the shared history of the area.

These elements are not big projects but are important because they will make the Avon River Precinct user-friendly and ensure there is a strong connection between the central city and the future developments along the river to the east.