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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.




Ivan Iafeta: The Influencers

The recent announcement of the Minister for Greater Christchurch Regeneration’s decision to approve the Regeneration Plan for the Ōtākaro Avon River Corridor is a significant milestone for Christchurch.


Regenerate Christchurch CEO

It is an exciting time for the city as the plan will guide long-term investment and commitment from multiple parties over the coming decades. Its vision of the river connecting us together – with each other, with nature and with new possibilities –reflects the community’s priorities for the area.

The opportunity to create an exemplar of climate change response that will benefit people and countries around the world will further enhance Christchurch’s national and international point of difference; and an 11-kilometre Green Spine will connect the central city to New Brighton with a mix of recreational, commercial and community uses.

Since delivering the Regeneration Plan for the Minister’s decision-making, Regenerate Christchurch has also provided advice to the Crown and Council on leadership and governance of the area.

We have recommended an independent entity to provide strong governance and independence, and we welcome the inclusion of a governance entity in the Christchurch City Council’s Global Settlement Agreement with the Crown.

The Regeneration Plan supports environmental leadership whilst also providing flexibility to accommodate changing community views and technological advancements that might emerge over the course of the coming decades.

It identifies land uses that are best for achieving the vision while anticipating and accommodating the potential for change over time. This, I believe, will prove to be one of its greatest strengths.




City’s Labour of Love

The Christ Church Cathedral reinstatement will be the city’s labour of love – and preparations are underway for early 2020, when the action starts.


Project Story | Olivia Spencer-Bower


Although nothing appears to be happening at the moment, plenty is going on in the background. Excitement is building at Christ Church Cathedral Reinstatement Project headquarters, where a tight team of up to 10 prepare for the 12 to 18-month initial stabilisation phase. “This is our Notre Dame. It’s not your regular doer-upper,” Project Director Keith Paterson says.

“A complex job always requires more planning. In the heritage world especially, things take time – and this is the crown in Christchurch’s rebuild. We are working through the best ways to make it structurally sound and safe to work in.”
The reinstated Cathedral will look similar – only greatly enhanced for the future. “It will provide more flexibility, be far more comfortable and functional,” he says.

Expect a warmer place of worship with improved acoustics. The main building will be stabilised and repaired first, then comes the visitor’s centre, and finally a new tower – offering the quintessential Christchurch experience of climbing up its stairs once again.

Paterson says waiting this long has its positives, as the industry has had time to develop new techniques and test them throughout the rebuild. “We have to make sure we get it right. It’s not the place to take any risks.”

The concept design is being fronted by Warren and Mahoney and Holmes Consulting Limited partnership, with input from Rawlinsons. Naylor Love Canterbury has been appointed for construction logistics, methodologies and programme advice, which he says is a good fit with other projects they’ve been involved in such as Christ’s College, Isaac Theatre Royal, and currently Wellington Town Hall’s strengthening and base isolation – that the Cathedral also requires.

The required skills of artisanship will be sourced locally as far as possible, and internationally where appropriate. “You could say we are rebuilding the skeleton from the inside. The walls, up to 1.2 metres thick, will be stripped from the inside and the existing rubble fill replaced with steel or reinforced concrete. It’s going to be complex, and it is always harder to retro-fit – especially a Cathedral.

As much heritage as possible will be retained, including items like the recently recovered stained glass angel’s head. He says the reinstatement will be a monumental structural repair of international significance. Likely the most complex Cathedral repair project globally, it will be worth the patience. The team is exploring ways of making the reinstatement accessible to the public using technology like CCTV as part of a temporary visitor experience centre.

“It takes a community to build – or in this case rebuild – a Cathedral and an independent trust has been established to fundraise and oversee the use of public funds,” Paterson says. “A public campaign will be launched next year, but anyone is welcome to donate now online, by post, or in person.”

The Dean of the Cathedral, the Very Reverend Lawrence Kimberley, is delighted that progress is being made. “It will be a joy to see the Cathedral on its way back to becoming a sacred and welcoming place for all,” he says.

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Basilica: to restore or not to restore? Q&A with Jamie Gough

The future of the earthquake-damaged Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament on Barbadoes Street is in question, as the Catholic Diocese confirms it is considering building a new cathedral on an empty site.



As Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel steps out of discussions citing a conflict of interest, we caught up with Christchurch City Councillor James Gough about the significance of this architectural icon.



Why is restoration something we should fight for?

We have already lost so much. If at all viable, I support every effort being made to retain significant historic buildings. It would be a rather sad story to tell if our local heritage landscape of the future was nothing more than just tilt slab, glass and K-bracing. The Christchurch Basilica was a stunning building. It was arguably more attractive in an architectural sense than the Anglican Cathedral and certainly one of the finest Renaissance style buildings in the country. Its heritage status is nationally recognised and it will hold special memories for countless people over numerous generations.

How passionate do you think Christchurch is about the preservation of this building?
I think we are fortunate to have passionate people in our community who fight hard for what they believe in but there will be many others who are just ‘battled out’. I would be surprised if the level of push-back, to whatever decision that the Catholic diocese makes, is anywhere near as vehement as to what it was for the Anglican Cathedral in the Square. That divided the community and dragged on for far too long. In the end I was just pleased that a decision was reached so the centre of the city wasn’t being held ransom any longer and we could all move forward. Inaction doesn’t serve anyone.

There’s an election coming up in October – is there a Gough family hat getting thrown in the ring?
There will definitely be a J. Gough name in the mix and that will include seeking re-election for council. Whether that extends to the mayoralty is something that I’m strongly considering but will be determined over the next wee while.

What are some of the critical areas for Christchurch in coming months?
Short term the well-head work needs to be completed so chlorine can be gone from our water as soon as practically possible. Longer term and without question there needs to be a much stronger commercial lens from the council. Some recent decisions have been very poor for business confidence and the central city, which is key to our progress at this critical juncture. The other major focus needs to be on rates. The level of rates increases are completely unsustainable so in my view this needs urgent attention and the spending on pet-projects has to stop.


Celebrating Success

Eight years into the rebuild, Christchurch is continuing to command attention on the global stage for its richly developing urban spaces, a metamorphosis which is palpable, measurable and impressive.



However, the extent to which the commercial backbone of the recovering city can fulfil its potential largely rests on the commercial shoulders of the identities spearheading the change in our built environment. Now it’s time to celebrate them! New Zealand’s foremost Building Industry Awards are designed to celebrate high performing individuals and teams working across the industry.

As the name New Zealand Building Industry Awards suggests, the focus of these awards is to acknowledge and celebrate the practitioners behind New Zealand’s most successful building projects. From the traditional Cost-band categories that have been part of the annual NZIOB awards programme since 1994, through to the more recent Consultants and Interdisciplinary Collaboration categories, the New Zealand Building Industry Awards have categories that all high-performing building practitioners can enter.

The key point of difference with the New Zealand Building Industry Awards is that the finalists are recognised in front of an audience (and by an Institute) that represents the full building supply-chain. The awards celebrate the achievements of the finalists, while promoting the companies that employ them as entities that value and practice high performance.

Entries for the 2019 New Zealand Building Industry Awards close on Friday 10 May. For more information and to enter, visit


New lease on life: Box 112

Work to strengthen and refurbish the grand Public Trust Building is well under way, signalling another step forward in Christchurch’s steady redevelopment.



First completed in 1925 for the Public Trust, the iconic 152 Oxford Terrace landmark was designed by one of Christchurch’s most celebrated architects, Cecil Wood, who is also well known for the ex-State Insurance building on Worcester Boulevard, and the Christ’s College Dining Hall.

Now, investment company, Box 112, is working hard to return the site to its former glory, with major plans in the works that feature a cocktail bar, retail and hospitality premises, along with premium office areas. Meanwhile, strengthening work is being completed by Ruamoko Solutions, which aims to introduce modern facilities and infrastructure that retain the authenticity and style of the original building.

A glimpse inside this stunning space reveals a grand entrance with marble lobby, glass and steel frame elevator and exquisite stairwell. The ground floor – which has a high value hospitality space available – has 6m high ceilings, large north facing windows and stunning authentic character features. The office levels above have been leased by top tier professional services firms and a suite of smaller serviced offices.



James Stringer, of Box 112, says all spaces have heritage features and high-quality finishes that leverage off the authenticity of the building. The top floor features a rooftop bar and the basement will house a speakeasy cocktail bar with the building’s original 1920’s safety deposit boxes.

“Since 1925, this building has been a Christchurch landmark,” he says. “We’re honoured to be able to restore and preserve this important icon for future generations. Its stunning heritage features and authenticity, along with its position overlooking the Avon River, provide businesses and their customers with a truly exceptional environment.”

Julian Ramsay, Managing Director of consulting structural engineers Ruamoko Solutions, says the Public Trust Building project involved earthquake strengthening of the iconic building to a minimum of 80% NBS. “Ruamoko had previously completed seismic strengthening work on this building in 2008 to achieve 33%NBS, which performed very well and ultimately prevented the collapse of this building in the Canterbury earthquakes,” he explains.

“Commissioned in 2018 to provide seismic strengthening to 67%NBS, Ruamoko performed a sophisticated non-linear time history analysis which provided more surety around performance of the 67% scheme. With minor modifications, our analysis resulted in an increase of the buildings strength to 80%NBS, which will allow the building to continue to remain an important part of the built environment in Christchurch.”

Other important contributors to this redevelopment project have been T&A Construction and Dean Cowell at Three Sixty Architecture. The Christchurch City Council has also been instrumental in this project through its landmark heritage grant and the support provided through its experienced and knowledgeable heritage team, led by Brendan Smyth.

With work well under way, Christchurch can once again look forward to the return of a well-known and remembered landmark.


What’s in the building?

In early 2016, Peter Marshall of architectural firm Warren and Mahoney wrote, in ArchitectureNow, that “the new Christchurch will be an overlay of the new upon the old – one that preserves heritage while embracing modernity. The result will be a 21st-century ‘garden city’ that provides a new way of working and living in a city within a contemporary and vibrant environment.”




Three years later that modernity is upon us and Christchurch denizens are indeed embracing it. Take a stroll around the central city and view some of the beautiful examples of the architecture dotting the Christchurch cityscape – the Deloitte Building, Tūranga, The Terrace, EntX, the bus interchange. With still a few significant anchor projects to be completed, notably the convention centre and sports facility, the CBD is a proverbial beehive of construction activity. What will eventually be a key feature on the border of the South Frame is Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery school. After being displaced by the earthquakes, the school – two inner-city schools which merged post-earthquake but have remained on separate campuses in Halswell and Ilam – will return to the new city campus near the Colombo corner of St Asaph Street. With the city as their resource – library, museum, arts precinct – and playground – Margaret Mahy, Botanic Gardens – this fantastic new building will reflect the school’s unique approach to learning. “Our new building allows us the chance to work as we did before the earthquakes in 2011. We will be able to use the city as our resource more effectively,” says Director Steven Mustor.




Leaving the campuses that have been their home for eight years will bring mixed emotions, but Mustor believes that “for most students, parents, and staff, there is great excitement about the possibilities our new facility and location can bring.” Students are set to take back the town in term two. Conveniently, perhaps most for parents doing the school run, right next to the school is The Yard, a series of boutique eateries, plus retail and office space. With more set to open, already operating are J-Bings (Chinese), Mokoji (Korean), Ceylon Kitchen (Sri Lankan) and Maison de Crepes. A repurposed 1950s printing hall, the exposed wood, brick, steel and concrete make for a cosy environment in which to relax, eat and meet. “Buildings,” Peter Marshall also wrote, “will have street frontages as well as communal outdoor space.”

Ao Tawhiti and The Yard, and the south sides of EntX and the Justice Precinct, overlook Matai Common, a communal ‘gathering space’ on Mollett Street that includes seating, kai tables, cycle stands, native plants and trees, a story board, and a special “rain poem” stencilled into the laneway that is revealed only when the area is wet. With these significant projects nearing completion, as well as a host of residential developments, both completed and planned, in the East Frame and elsewhere, the CBD certainly is providing a new way to work and live.


Superhosts on scooters

Superhosts on scooters

There are many sights to see in Christchurch and as many ways to see them.


Superhosts on scooters


The latest way is an initiative by bffs Julia Malley and Julia Strelou. Friends, work colleagues, and now tourism entrepreneurs, they have teamed up to provide guided tours of some of the spots of interest in the CBD. The twist: they and their guests are all riding Lime scooters.

It’s guaranteed to be an adrenaline-filled, exciting rush of full on entertainment, a thrill such as you have never before experienced. And that’s just the first 60 seconds of meeting the two Julias, long before you get anywhere near a scooter. Young, hip, articulate, passionate, bubbly, engaging and super funny, both the Julias are witty, cheeky and fun to be around. Their energy is infectious, and that’s the spirit they bring to their tours of the city.

Julia M is a Christchurch girl. She lived here through the quakes and knows the city, pre and post-earthquake, well. She works in media and is world-famous in Christchurch for being one of the city’s brides in the NZ version of Married at First Sight. She is an Airbnb Superhost, and that’s what led her to establish the ‘Rebuild Tour’.

Julia S hails from Australia, but is also now a Christchurch denizen. She is in the media business too and, if it’s possible to quantify, is the more reserved of the two. But not by much. “Julia and I are relationship builders,” she says. “If you are going to hang out with us you will have a laugh and a good time.”

As an Airbnb Superhost, Julia M added the Rebuild Tour as an Airbnb Experience – activities for Airbnb guests designed by hosts aimed at immersing guests in their unique world.
“Guests love the Lime scooters,” she says, “so why not use them to do guided tours? There’s nothing like that in New Zealand.”

The two take up to ten guests (non-Airbnb guests, too), each on their own scooter, to various spots around the CBD, and offer some behind the scenes information. While having fun, they are mindful of the respect needed at places such as the CTV site, 185 Chairs (a particular favourite site of guests), and other post-quake landmarks. Guests are reminded of the devastation, to both landscape and life, the city suffered.
“We focus on what happened after the quakes, but we also have a positive spin because it’s also about the regeneration of the city,” Julia S says.

They also visit Margaret Mahy playground to play, various street art projects and have an interactive experience painting their own street art at the Giant Spray Cans on the corner of Manchester and Lichfield streets.

Some of the city’s ‘darker’ spots get a mention too, and perhaps a visit. ‘Dark tourism’ ventures are popular worldwide and the Julias offer some insights to visitors into a little bit of Christchurch’s underbelly (when it’s appropriate), such as the city’s red light district and McLean’s Mansion on Manchester street. They may even venture some speculation about whether or not it is haunted.

Says one recent scooter tour participant: “It’s been nothing but fun!”


Safety conscious, informative, interactive, sometimes a little bit naughty and sure to be a fantastic time, download the Lime app and call 027 448 0162, or visit


Riverlands House

Clever corner construction: Riverlands House an outstanding triumph for Warren & Mahoney and ABL Construction

Handsome new commercial build Riverlands House is anchored on the corner of Victoria and Kilmore Streets, with prow pointed like an ocean liner toward the Port Hills. It is a striking addition to this prominent corner and shortlisted for the Commercial Category of the New Zealand Institute of Architecture (NZIA) Canterbury awards. The original building sat back on the site, but new city rules enabled the building to come forward to directly interface with the corner.

Riverlands House
Photo – Sarah Rowlands

Chris Dopheide, Architect at Warren and Mahoney Architects, says the building is a strong example of how to make the best use of a smaller inner-city site, with hospitality at ground floor level, offices in mid-levels and topped off with apartments, to provide living/working units.
Chris says the owner was keen on low maintenance: the external materials are a GRC concrete panel system on the Kilmore Street façade which is lightweight and efficient to construct and maintain. The Victoria Street frontage is faced with striking mesh-pattern panels to control the glare from morning sunlight streaming into the office areas. The top floor apartment is clad in Euroline Seamlock, again a practical, hardy, modular system that can be readily adapted.
Lead contractor for the project was South Island owned and operated ABL Construction (Amalgamated Builders Ltd) and General Manager Canterbury Michael Johnson says the synergies between the two multi-award-winning firms made their involvement a no-brainer.
“It’s been an absolute pleasure working with Warren and Mahoney, especially on such a high-quality project,” he says.
“It was a very collaborative environment, with both companies focused on meeting the highest standards.”

Riverlands House
Photo – Sarah Rowlands


Established in 1961, ABL has achieved some of the highest accolades in the commercial contracting sector, including the New Zealand Commercial Projects Platinum Award – bestowed only on those who have won five or more national titles. The ABL team has won national awards across multiple categories including high end commercial projects, working with some of the country’s top architects.
“ABL has been around for 55 years now and during that time, we’ve been focused on open and transparent communication, working closely with the architect and client to ensure we’re delivering the highest quality iteration of exactly what they want.
“The end product speaks of Warren and Mahoney’s professional capabilities. They were brilliant to work with and Riverlands House is a fantastic addition to the city streetscape.”
The design captures quintessential Christchurch views, and the views from the apartment on top are pretty much 360 degrees. Chris’ favourite view is from the master bed and bath over Durham Street to the Port Hills, but the view from the west terrace across Hagley Park to the snow-capped mountains is pretty impressive too.

Riverlands House
Photo – Sarah Rowlands

Project Partners

  1. ABL Construction:
    Ph: 03-341 2160
  2. Warren and Mahoney:
    Ph: 03-961 5926
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.