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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!


A retail upgrade

Christchurch’s Priority Projects has now completed full earthquake strengthening to the buildings located at Walker Court, with the tenants remaining operational throughout the process.


The retail outlet, home to Burnsco and Paramount Pools, is located at 75 Blenheim Road and made up of four units, across single and double levels.

The Canterbury fit-out, design-build and project management company has upgraded the buildings to 100 percent of the NBS code, which includes substantial new structural steel, upgrade of accessible facilities, new roof and fire protection systems.

Project Manager Kim Lowry says this was a complex project, but everything was completed on time with the anchor tenants remaining operational throughout and efforts made to minimise the effect on their trading.

They are now seeking tenants for two lovely vacant units on the same site.

Priority Projects has undertaken some major concept-to-completion strengthening work since the Canterbury earthquakes, namely Go Bus & Flip Out headquarters at 230 Maces Road, Chester Street Apartments, Harcourts Division Street in Riccarton, and significant residential rebuilds for existing clients.

Since 2009, Director Steve Brownie and the team have been offering comprehensive project management of commercial fit-outs, design-builds, feasibility studies, earthquake repairs, rebuilds and new construction projects, that all stick to the core values of priority service, quality, value and results.

For more information, visit

Supporting the region’s children

A beautiful historic context is woven into the Canterbury landscape, but perhaps one of the most poignant of them all is the story behind a little Canterbury haven known as Cholmondeley Children’s Centre, in a dip off the main highway through Governors Bay.



Hugh Heber Cholmondeley and his beloved wife Margaret, known affectionately as Mary, had been unable to have children of their own and when Mary died unexpectedly, Hugh decided to purchase land in Governors Bay that had been owned by nuns and built a children’s home to meet the needs of the city’s young people – at 6 Cholmondeley Lane.

Known simply as Cholmondeley – pronounced Chum-Lee – 94 years later it still continues to meet those needs with short-term and emergency respite care and education for children from 3 to 12 years, and support for their families. “He gave everything he had to the children of Canterbury,” Cholmondeley Chief Executive Arron Perriam explains.

“While the challenges facing Canterbury children in the early 1920s were largely health-focused, with infantile plague, influenza and tuberculosis, today’s children are affected by many issues including the breakdown of the family unit. We work to enhance the wellbeing of children and their families, continuing to honour Hugh’s vision by supporting the children of Canterbury.”

Just metres away is the original homestead, which has supported more than 25,000 Canterbury children since its opening in 1925, before being demolished after irreparable damage was sustained in the February 2011 earthquake. Its $6.5 million replacement was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key in 2015 and the need for its services has continued to grow.

The largely community-funded Governors Bay organisation has experienced an unprecedented demand for its care and education services, with a 150 percent increase in the number of children in its care post-quake. Today more than 500 children stay at Cholmondeley each year.

Cholmondeley provides wrap-around services, designed to empower our young people by extending themselves educationally, physically and emotionally, with registered teachers, social workers and child youth care practitioners. “What we provide is residential care, but what we actually do is about so much more than that,” Arron says. “We’re providing a loving, caring, secure environment for Canterbury children which at its heart, is about healing our community.”

Last month Cholmondeley held a street appeal as part of its inaugural Little Gems Awareness Month. “There’s an assumption that we’re doing well but the reality is we’re running at a deficit and have been for many years,” Arron says. “These services we believe are essential for our Canterbury community, the demand is not going away and the need to provide these services is now stronger than ever.”

The increased need for Cholmondeley’s care services is the result of ongoing stressors facing families, including bereavement, financial difficulties, mental or physical illness and family violence, with the effects of the earthquakes and the Christchurch massacre having a devastating toll.

“That same spirit of generosity that saw the formation of Cholmondeley in the early 1920s is still alive today and the fact that our wonderful Canterbury community continues to provide support for other families enables Cholmondeley to do what we do.

“That’s something Canterbury can be really proud of.”


Strategic Homes

A strategic move: Strategic Homes

For more than 17 years, Strategic Homes has built houses for the people of Canterbury, with more than 800 dwellings completed to date.


Strategic Homes


Now, in an exciting move, the company is changing its name to Touchstone Homes. Directors Andrew O’Donoghue and Karen Pritchard explain the rationale behind the name change. “When we started the business, most of our customers were property investors. Back then, the name ‘Strategic’ reflected our investing business model perfectly,” says Andrew.

“While we still do a lot of investment properties, today, many of our customers are couples, young families or empty-nesters wanting homes, so we wanted a name better suited to these clients. Touchstone, which means ‘criterion for determining the quality or genuineness of something’, was chosen because we are extremely proud of the build quality of our homes.

“We also love to build genuine relationships with our clients,” Karen adds. “We believe that’s the secret to giving clients the home they really want. And that’s why we love the home building industry – seeing the joy on people’s faces when they walk into their brand-new home. When you’re ready to start your home-building journey, give us a call.

To celebrate the launch of Touchstone Homes, the new showhome is open in the Prestons Park subdivision, Burwood at 49 Prestons Park Drive, 12 to 4pm, Wednesday to Sunday.



Fair's Fair

Fair’s Fair: Markets and fairs

We’re at the tail end of winter, so we’re preparing to throw off the blankets and start venturing out into the big, wide city again. When it comes to markets and fairs, there’s something for everybody, from the foodies to the fashionistas. So we’ve had a bit of a dalliance as detectives and hunted out some of our favourites. After all, fair’s fair when you need something to fill in some weekend hours.

Fair's Fair

Boulevard Arts Market
31 -33 Worcester Boulevard
A permanent container shop lane and space sited next door on two lawns for casual craft stalls, open 9:30am to 5pm, 7 days a week.


Friday Street Food Market
Cathedral Square
One of the most popular spots in the city centre on Fridays, bringing together the best food trucks and food stalls with live entertainment, buskers and more.


Lyttelton Crafts and Treasures
Collett’s Corner, cnr Oxford and London St, Lyttelton
A talented and varied array of artisan craft stalls combined with other stalls selling retro clothing and collectibles, adjacent to the famous Lyttelton Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.


Opawa Farmers’ Market
Opawa Farmers’ Market, 275 Fifield Terrace
Priding itself on having the best selection of fresh local produce in Christchurch, there’s a large organic range from well-known and trusted local growers – open Sundays.


Makers Market
XCHC, 376 Wilsons Road
Held next on Saturday 25 August, Makers Market is a monthly market hosted by XCHC and Zero Waste Stitching celebrating Christchurch’s creativity. Gold coin entry and café on site.


Halswell Community Market
St John of God Hospital, 26 Nash Road, Halswell
Set in the award-winning gardens of St John of God, Hauora Trust, this is a place for people to connect and support local businesses, musicians, clubs and groups, held on Sundays.

The Tannery Spring Market
The Tannery, 3 Garlands Road, Woolston
Welcome spring with a day of sale tables and store specials. Featuring live music and some of the city’s most talented craft and design stall holders. Saturday 10 September 10am to 5pm


Shabby Chic Market Day
Rochester Villa, 21 Connal St, Woolston
Held Sundays, it features heaving trestles with vintage items, linens, clothes, costumes, jewels, collectables, retro, kitsch and kitchen, antiques, craft works and much more. Check out Facebook.


Grandiose Identities: Canterbury Architecture

Like great homes, great cities too are works in progress; their forms nurtured over time, built upon by generations like layers of geological strata, which has resulted in an urban environment that is rich in character. It is after all, what made the post-Victorian city of Christchurch such a striking one.


As the rebuilding city becomes a commercial playground for talented teams to create dynamic, contemporary designs, there are equally talented teams hard at work salvaging and strengthening what they can of our distinct built heritage.
While some exciting new commercial builds usher in a new era of construction in the city, they are rubbing architectural shoulders with some equally grandiose identities.
Both the old and the new have been recognised at this year’s NZIA Canterbury Architecture Awards, with large and complex public and commercial architectural projects, innovative buildings for learning and restored Christchurch landmarks among the winners.
In total, 34 awards were announced at the Awards 2018 event at Christchurch’s Cardboard Cathedral.



The jury convenor for this year’s Canterbury awards, Christchurch architect Melanda Slemint, praised the ability of architects to produce buildings of beauty, which function well and contribute positively to their wider environment.
“What really stood out is the way architects have been able to keep sight of the human scale, and the context within which the projects sit,” she says. “Christchurch is undergoing a period of identity change and some of the new projects speak eloquently about the quality of life we celebrate here.
“The world’s best cities have a fine-grained rhythm that creates interest and variation and prevents streets and public spaces from being overwhelming. As post-quake Christchurch continues to develop, it is heartening to see that the city’s architects are attuned to the needs of people.”
All Canterbury Architecture Award-winning projects are eligible for shortlisting in the New Zealand Architecture Awards. Those awards will be announced in November. For a full list of the winners visit