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Summer of discovery in Otautahi Christchurch


Our urban city centre is becoming a vibrant, interesting place. As you prepare for the summer break, architect Craig South, of Allfrey + South, recommends including Christchurch in your plans.

If you haven’t visited the central city for a while, I’d suggest making some time over summer to go and explore it. You’ll find a lot has changed for the better, with so many new buildings and developments up and running.

A good starting point is Tūranga, the city’s new main public library. Tūranga is the largest public library in the South Island, so there is plenty to see and do just in this building alone.

Our practice recently hosted one of our social forums on architecture (ArchiChat) there at Auaha Hīhī (Spark Place), a ground-floor meeting space.

This world-class facility is truly multi-purpose, serving not just as an information hub, but also as a fit-for-purpose centre of engagement and interaction.

Christchurch’s new waterfront is flourishing. The City Promenade – part of Te Papa Ōtakaro/Avon River Precinct – opened just over a year ago, running along Oxford Terrace.

If you do nothing else this summer, do take a stroll along this well-paved riverside walk that passes by the Canterbury Earthquake Memorial, the Bridge of Remembrance, Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre (scheduled to open in October 2020) and Victoria Square to the Margaret Mahy Family Playground.

Along the way, you can stop and visit Christchurch’s hospitality hotspots at The Terrace or the bustling new Riverside Market development that boasts an indoor farmers market, linked with boutique shops, restaurants, cafés and bars.

The market’s lively mix of local growers and small traders makes this place a real stand-out. It’s on an intimate scale that people just love and it certainly makes a change from the suburban malls.

It’s exciting to see Christchurch evolving into an innovative, liveable city that includes these sorts of hubs or small communities of businesses offering something different to the big chain retail approach.

The Welder complex on Welles Street, with a health and wellbeing focus, is another great example of this.

You’ll also find a dash of character in the SALT district, home to some cool heritage buildings and alternative eateries such as Little High Eatery. The inner city is now generally well set-up for shopping, enlivened by Melbourne-style laneways.

Of course, the Arts Centre, Christchurch Art Gallery and Canterbury Museum are other familiar drawcards, along with the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

Not everything has happened as quickly as hoped in the city. Yet at least the end is in sight for some big projects, such as Te Pae and the new Metro Sports Facility (due to be finished in late 2021). Stabilisation work is soon to begin on Christ Church Cathedral and the council plans to put an investment case to Cabinet for Christchurch’s new stadium by Christmas.

There is much else to be excited about, such as the planned new Court Theatre in the city’s performing arts precinct. While we wait, there’s a nearby colony of black-billed gulls, tarāpuka, in the flooded foundations of the former PWC building site providing quite a show.

If you’re here over summer with family, I recommend adding it to your itinerary of things to see and do in Christchurch! www.allso.co.nz


 

Opening new doors on city living: Allfrey + South Architects


Buyers seeking a newly built city apartment will find plenty on the market. But what if people want something else, something more connected and affordable? Architect Craig South explores what this ‘something else’ could look like and how it could transform how we live.

 

PHOTO BY CHRISTCHURCHNZ

 

I was recently invited to contribute to a New Zealand Institute of Architects’ forum on the subject of emerging trends in city living in Christchurch. As one of the speakers, I was pleased to give a talk on co-housing and the work our practice has been doing in this area for the Peterborough Housing Co-operative. We have been privileged to lead the design of this new pocket neighbourhood over the past three years as the project has evolved. The development includes both private homes and shared facilities, clustered around a large central courtyard.

The co-housing approach is instinctively attractive because it connects with our ideals of wanting to live well in small communities and of wanting to live more simply and more sustainably.

Now more than ever, people really do want greater choice around how they live in the urban environment. Internationally, we are seeing the emergence of a growing array of solutions to answer that consumer trend. For example, ‘Naked Architecture’ offers buyers the ability to buy ‘shell space’ with no pre-imposed layout so that it can then be finished and fitted out to suit personal needs and budget. The idea is that two different potential buyers will likely have two very different sets of lifestyle priorities, so it makes sense to let them decide how they want to configure their own space.

Sparking a lot of interest in Australia right now, too, is the Nightingale model. This is an innovative, architect-led approach to apartment development that seeks to prioritise social, environmental and financial sustainability. With profits capped, projects are crowdfunded through an ethical investment model and transparency around costs and governance – it’s an approach that is proving very popular (each project to date has been completely pre-sold via ballot).

Of course, the reason why models like this resonate so well is they offer more control. Future residents have a say on key design decisions, such as how much car parking to include or whether to have any shared facilities. They call the shots on whether to have a swimming pool or communal barbecue area.

In my view, any kind of shared, multi-residential arrangement could only succeed if all those buying into it were on the same page, sharing a similar vision. As well, there would need to be clear and effective ground rules in place to minimise any potential misunderstandings or conflicts.

Could something like the Nightingale model work in Christchurch? Certainly, I think it offers some exciting potential for those interested in pooling their resources to get the kind of city lifestyle they want within a multi-residential setting.

Having held a number of interactive forums on architecture this year, through our ArchiChat Group sessions, I’m aware that many people would certainly welcome more choice in this area of urban housing development. At our next round of ArchiChat in November, we will be seeking to gauge interest in potentially trialling this approach at a Christchurch site. Whether you are a developer, builder or potential home buyer, we would welcome your input – register at info@allso.co.nz.

www.allso.co.nz

 

Architect Craig South
Craig South

 

Architectural forum attracts positive response: Allfrey + South Architects


Allfrey + South Architects’ initiative ArchiChat is resonating strongly with people who share their passion for design and the architectural process. As Architect Craig South reports, the latest two-way forum sparked constructive discussion on how people like to live and holiday.

 

 

Having launched our ArchiChat Group earlier this year, it is exciting to see interest growing in this interactive social forum that we set up for people wanting to learn more about architecture and what architects do.

As well as giving people an opportunity to explore the practice of contemporary architecture, the forum is providing an invaluable vehicle for an informal exchange of thoughts and ideas. It has been a great experience and we’re certainly learning a lot from those taking part.

Our latest series, in early August, was well-attended and generated great feedback. We got the ball rolling at each session by asking people to name their favourite holiday locations. It was interesting how these places so often lined up with a passion, whether for tramping or biking, peace and quiet, or just wanting to be somewhere beautiful with family.

Discussion then turned to what sort of bach people dreamed of and how that might complement their home lifestyle. Some preferred the concept of combining a modest city home with a large bach where they could holiday in style and comfort with friends and family. Others clearly favoured a spacious city home for urban living complemented by the option of being able to escape to a small private bach.

 

 

We talked through how each option could look in architectural terms, drawing examples from our own practice. We first outlined how a large holiday house can be designed to accommodate multiple families with all the comforts of home and how this could be combined with compact living in an inner city apartment. Many felt this combination would work best if the holiday home location was not too far from the city, making it easy to invite friends and family out for a weekend away.

Secondly, we showed how a large city home can be designed to maximise easy living for children and adults, as well as catering to extended family/guests. We discussed how this could be complemented by a small bach designed to make best use of space by delivering flexibility, privacy, style and comfort.

A lot of people thought a small, low maintenance bach would be perfect for a more distant getaway. We also touched on how you could combine a small city home with a small bach and designing for one-off crowds in small spaces. Smaller buildings do offer that advantage of less maintenance.

Personal preferences will always influence how people live and play, though most attending our sessions agreed that a bach should look and feel different to day-to-day living so as to create that true sense of escape.

In these latest ArchiChat sessions, there was also lively debate on the Merivale Mall expansion and whether people favoured suburban development over growth in the central city. The consensus favoured a vibrant city centre. Needless to say, we are looking forward to another successful round of ArchiChat later this year and having more people join our conversation on architecture.

www.allso.co.nz

 

Architect Craig South
Craig South

 

Bringing People Together to Talk Architecture: Allfrey + South Architects


Allfrey + South Architects opened an exciting conversation on architecture with the wider community earlier this year via its new ArchiChat Group. Architect Craig South explains what the open forum is all about and why it is going from strength to strength.

 

 

It has been a privilege for us to open our practice this year and welcome those with a passion for design and the architectural process to join our ArchiChat Group get-togethers. Sharing a room with people from all walks of life who are genuinely interested in what we do as architects and how we go about it is really thrilling in many ways.

We first realised there was a place for an interactive social forum on architecture after being approached by a lovely couple, familiar with our work, at an open studio session last year. They were curious about design and asked lots of questions about our projects. It struck us that there could be other people like them who would appreciate being able to meet us informally and talk about architecture. We were not sure what to expect when we launched our first ArchiChat Group session earlier this year. In fact, demand was such that we ended up holding a second evening to cater to everyone who wanted to get involved.

Our next ArchiChat series of meetings will be in the week starting 5 August with the third scheduled for November. While builders, engineers and landscape architects are among those taking part, anyone with an interest in architecture is welcome to register. You don’t need to be an industry expert or someone thinking about building a new home. ArchiChat is primarily a forum to meet and socialise with our architects and other people who share a passion for all things architectural. Our get-togethers, with drinks and nibbles provided, are small, friendly and generally quite noisy with plenty of opportunities to ask questions and chat about matters of interest.

 

At each session we go through some of our projects, including past and current work. Again, we see this is as very informal, not a lecture. We also encourage discussion regarding newsworthy topics in the world of architecture. For example, a focus of debate at our first ArchiChat sessions was ‘the Tulip’, the controversial new skyscraper planned for London. As we are involved in a local project, we also chatted about the co-housing movement and opened up the floor to explore what people think about this trend.

This month we are inviting people to share their thoughts on whether it is time to rethink the norm of the small bach. For those who socialise most with family and friends while on holiday, then a larger bach and a smaller city house or apartment could make more sense than a large city home and a tiny bach. We are looking forward to hearing people’s feedback on what would work best for them.

We love how the ArchiChat Group is creating a place for dialogue and a two-way flow of ideas. As much as people can learn from us, we are also gaining a lot from the informal exchange of thoughts and ideas with people who care about architecture as much as we do.

Register your interest at info@allso.co.nz and we will keep you posted. www.allso.co.nz

 

 

Architect Craig South
Craig South