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New kids on the wellness block

The doors to 18 businesses threw open their doors at The Welder complex on 2 November. We check out the new kids on the wellness block.



A collection of six re-purposed industrial buildings on Welles Street, between Manchester and Colombo, have housed a range of businesses over the years, from an old welder’s workshop to a former grocery distribution centre. And, while they’ve been given a healthy new lease on life as the first-ever health and wellbeing centre of this scale in New Zealand, the developers have paid due homage to the buildings’ former residents.

The business hub, created by local property development firm Box 112, includes a yoga studio, a plant-based treat store, two bread and baked goods specialists, a wholefoods refillery, a juicery, a wine and tapas bar, a yakitori restaurant and an indoor plants store – for many of them, Canterbury was their commercial birthplace and the city remains close to their hearts.

Box 112 has built its developmental empire by purchasing, fitting out and leasing buildings throughout the city, but with a unique appreciation of architectural history, they’re all about the stories behind the spaces. “Buildings are not just spaces, they have memories attached to them,” co-director James Stringer says.


Rejuvenating the semi-industrial area south of Tuam Street is a project close to the company’s commercial heart and The Welder now stands as testament to this tireless dedication.

Pro-rugby player Tim Bateman has brought us the country’s largest modern wellness centre, O Studio, which offers a range of yoga, flotation, meditation, ice-baths, infrared saunas and personalised coaching programmes.

“It’s awesome; a dream come true,” O Studio’s Sam Thomas says of the opening. “It’s been two years in the making for O Studio, with Tim slaving away alongside a professional rugby career, which makes it an even more incredible feat to get where we are today.”

Sam and Sally Hooper, former owners and creators of Pot Sticker and Sister Kong, have paired up with former All Black Andy Ellis to open Christchurch’s only Yakitori restaurant Bar Yoku. And cold pressed organic juice cleanse company Greenroots Juicery has opened Barefoot Eatery here.


Stewart Corkin and the clever crew behind Corkin + Friends have opened a plush new hairdressing space in the development, while Flourish Foliage provides a range of indoor plants and related products.

Rhiannon and Elsie are the passionate pairing behind The Great Pastry Shop, while GoodFor allows you to stock up on your pantry goods without the wasteful packaging that comes with it.

Christchurch’s very own modern craft bakery, Grizzly Baked Goods, has also made its home here, along with modern-day tea merchants Noble and Savage.

The Two Raw Sisters bring their creative approach to plant-based food through workshops, catering, cookbooks and videos, and you’ll also find vino and tapas bar Salut Salut here, along with destination homewares store, Sollos.




Iconic building stands strong

In the heart of the new city, overlooking the renewed Ōtākaro Avon River precinct, The Public Trust Building is being restored to its former glory and strengthened for future generations.



Box 112 is preserving the iconic building which has graced the Canterbury streetscape for almost 95 years. The team at Box 112 is renowned for restoring heritage buildings with all the respect they deserve – the Public Trust Building stands as a fine example. Every historic detail of this landmark has been considered and respected, enhancing the architecture and feel of the Canterbury icon that encapsulates the roaring twenties.

Built in 1925 for the Public Trust, 152 Oxford Terrace was designed by one of Christchurch’s most celebrated architects, Cecil Wood. Wood drew international inspiration for this bold and grand design after a trip to New York during the skyscraper boom of the 1920s.

With such inspiration, it’s not surprising that the building’s entrance is a masterpiece, and will have steps leading into what could easily be the middle of the Manhattan, via its stunning timber revolving door (saved from the original 1919 PGG building) and into the grand 6m high marble lobby. The impressively oversized steel-framed windows, the original steel-caged elevator, cornice detailing and its feature façade – soon to be restored to its original colour – express a timeless architectural masterpiece.

Property developer Box 112 spokesperson James Stringer says, “Christchurch City Council have shown tremendous civic leadership in their joint desire to support these important projects. In a time where they are being called on for funds from many angles, it is deeply encouraging to see them acknowledge the importance of these structures in telling the story of Ōtākaro to the world and to Canterbury’s future generations.”

Awarded in 2017, The Landmark Heritage Grant of $1.9m enabled immediate strengthening works and protection of key heritage features to be undertaken. The building’s strengthening project is now complete. Box 112 has now commenced the second stage of construction, involving the carpentry, fit-out and aesthetic refurbishment. Completion and the opening are scheduled for early 2020.

“We want the people of Christchurch to have a chance to appreciate the beauty of this historic building,” James says.

The Public Trust Building was designed to portray strength and stability to the people of Christchurch. At the time of its original completion, almost 100 years ago, another local and celebrated architect Hurst Seager said of its design “it strikes a new note in Christchurch”. It’s seemingly fitting, and the same can be said of the city’s icon, entering the new ‘20s – almost a century on.

Vibrant hospitality and professional services are set make this iconic site home. Francesca Voza will bring the basement to life with a Rome-inspired jazz and cocktail bar, adorned with the original 1920s safety deposit boxes. Professional recruitment firm Graham Consulting and award-winning strategic advertising and brand agency Novo will both have headquarters here.

And for the cherry on the top, a world-class tapas bar created by Jeremy Stevens will overlook the city – ensuring the building is one for the public to call their own.




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.”