The appointment of Weir Architecture to transform the Hereford Street office block that once housed Scorpio books into a stylish boutique hotel, assures Christchurch of a delicious treat to be sampled in around 18 months. National Award Architectural winner in 2019 for The Crown Plaza Christchurch project, Weir Architecture has stunning plans for the building which forms part of the Hilton Tapestry group.
Strengthened, remodelled and with a top floor added, the hotel will be named The Modern.
Destined to become one of the city’s treasures, it will feature a retro interior – a fabulous take on the 1960’s modern era of interiors. Robert Weir, Director of Weir Architecture says the company sought something completely unique to Christchurch and realised the proponents of art, architecture, furniture and interior design of the 1960s in Christchurch should be celebrated.
Inspired by local artists’ works stored at COCA, as well as local titans Miles Warren and Peter Beaven, plus international architecture stars of the 60s, the furniture and artworks will be authentic.
The theme dictates the colour palette, the use of timber, leather, carpeting, and wall finishes in panelling and wallpaper.
Robert is lead consultant, working with developer Tailorspace and the hotel will be operated by the Sarin Group.
Hosting 70 rooms, the ground floor restaurant and café bar will be operated by the hotel, and we can look forward to a visit in 18 months.
“It’s really exciting to be working on this sophisticated hotel redevelopment and it’s always wonderful to work with a strong brand such as Hilton,” Robert says.
Six out of the 10 award-winning projects at the 2019 ADNZ Resene Architectural Design Awards, one of New Zealand’s most prestigious architecture awards, are by Christchurch designers. 145 entries were received from some of the most talented designers across the country. The awards were held on Friday 18 October in Queenstown.
The Christchurch winners were Greg Young of Young Architects, Nic Curragh of Objects Ltd, Ben Brady of Linetype Architectural, Robert Weir of Weir Architecture and Chris Wheeler of Hierarchy Architecture.
Greg Young from Young Architects won two awards for two different projects; the 2019 Residential New Home over 300m2 Architectural Design Award for a Merivale project titled ‘Gable Silhouette’, and the Residential Multi-Unit Dwelling Architectural Design Award for ‘Hereford Apartments’.
A simple family home, ‘Gable Silhouette’ is all about the enjoyment of living. The aesthetic has been inspired by the early work of Sir Miles Warren and the architecture of Central Otago. The other award-winning project, created by Young, was the design of four one-bedroom apartments on a 405sqm site in the inner city, with judges describing the four tiny single-bedroom units as being of rare spatial quality.
Nic Curragh of Objects Ltd won the Residential New Home between 150m2 and 300m2 Architectural Design Award for his project ‘Red Rock Lane’. Nestled into a terraced hillside site in Redcliffs, this two-bedroom house has been positioned to enjoy the view east to the Southern Alps. All living spaces are accommodated on the first floor within two dark-stained cedar box forms. The more dominant north box, with its extensively glazed lounge, cantilevers out dramatically over a 13m lap pool and pool room.
Ben Brady of Linetype Architectural won the Residential Alterations and Additions Architectural Design Award for his Sumner project titled ‘Esplanade Alterations’. A light hand was required on this 100-year-old arts and crafts villa. Although already renovated and earthquake repaired, the home required an alteration with more foresight and a big picture perspective to make it suitable for modern life while retaining and enhancing its character features.
Judge’s said Brady had given the grand old house a new lease on life through an alteration that brings out its best.
“Restrained interior choices give it lightness and foregrounds the original features of the house. The entrance deftly makes a sculptural statement out of an inconveniently located tree. The house unfolds on arrival. A new spiral staircase in black steel at the rear of the house juxtaposes sympathetically with the white timber walls and leads to a detached studio.”
The Crowne Plaza by Robert Weir of Weir Architecture received the Commercial/Industrial Architectural Design Award. Weir Architecture was tasked with transforming an existing damaged office building into a new dynamic luxurious hotel. Featuring 204 spacious and modern hotel rooms, combined with the best views that Christchurch City has, the hotel sits proudly within the Performing Arts Precinct, bringing life and vitality back into the city.
Meanwhile, the 2019 Resene Colour in Design Award went to ‘Coffee Culture The Crossing’ by Chris Wheeler of Hierarchy Architecture. The judges said that the stunning, neutral palette evokes style, warmth and grace.
One word encapsulates the work of the team at Weir Architecture – versatility. “We are working all around the South Island at the moment,” Managing Director Robert Weir says. “There are projects underway in Nelson, Wanaka, Queenstown, the West Coast, Akaroa and in Christchurch and every one of these projects is different.”
The locations demonstrate versatility and so does the work – from a large rest home, apartments and other industrial projects in Nelson, to architectural homes in Queenstown, baches in Akaroa, houses on the West Coast and hotels and restaurant fit-outs in Christchurch.
“It is so easy today with our communication systems to undertake work anywhere. Simple too, to just jump on a plane, or into a car and drive to site if we need to. I’ve driven to Wanaka and back in a day a number of times.”
As can be seen from the range of projects underway, Weir Architecture doesn’t specialise in any one sector of architecture, but works across all aspects. “My associates Raymond Barnes and John Pettersen and I have decades of experience in all forms of design and construction to offer clients.”
One thing that is a constant at Weir Architecture is listening to what clients want. “Our clients are at the centre of all our processes. Taking the time to understand their requirements is crucial to producing designs that fulfil a brief. Each project is looked at on its own merits and with an absolutely open mind.”
This client-focused approach has resulted in many architectural awards over the years. “We are thrilled to have won this year’s regional architectural design award for ‘Residential New Home over 300m2’. It’s a beachside house on Christchurch’s North Shore and it was designed to harmonise with the clients’ family lifestyle and use of spaces.”
On a larger scale, but still very much in accordance with the client’s brief, is another 2019 award winner – the transformation of the former Forsyth Barr office tower into a dynamic luxurious hotel – the new Christchurch Crowne Plaza. “This was definitely a challenging project requiring lateral thinking and all our combined experience to resolve – but the outcome earned us a commercial/industrial design award.”
Weir Architecture designs buildings which maximise each site’s potential, plus interiors which seem to extend beyond their footprint. These achieve seamless flow to outside spaces.
Hire the right architectural firm and a house becomes far more than accommodation. Similarly with a commercial building. Basic requirements will be superseded; unspoken wishes fulfilled. When it comes to enhancing the exterior look and feel of a dwelling or building, Robert Weir believes in the efficacy of a mixture of materials, textures and varied roof lines.
The Weir architectural team designs each home individually to a client’s brief, providing spaces which manage to both provoke and reward its residents. “As founding members of the NZ Green Build, we’re strong believers that incorporating green principles and creating highly thermally rated building envelopes to minimise energy usage are fundamental aspects of excellent design,” Robert says.
This holds true for both residential and commercial projects, regardless of the attendant levels of innovation and complexity. The Weir team, working closely with award-winning master builders, has itself picked up many national and local awards. Currently working on projects throughout the South Island, Robert says he’s looking to grow the business in Wanaka and other central Otago areas.
Find out more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or call into 226 Barbadoes Street, Christchurch to peruse and discuss design options. Phone 03 377 4900 or 021 239 6052.
Transforming a 1980’s office block into a code-compliant, sophisticated hotel contains hidden complexities that the lay-person would struggle to comprehend. However, Weir Architecture Director Robert Weir achieved this feat of design, consenting, construction and ingenuity within two years, converting the Forsythe Barr building into the Crowne Plaza Hotel.
Together with a total reconfiguration, the structure had to be strengthened with engineers incorporating carbon fibre wrapping. Robert says the original architects had rotated the stair and lift shafts by 45 degrees. “Creating viable rooms out of interesting shaped spaces was challenging!”
Three lower levels are now conference rooms. Converting bars, restaurants and kitchens from car parks required a change to flat floors and working with lowered ceiling heights. One design challenge was concealing necessary additional services within the existing structure: there is a 50,000 litre water tank hidden beneath the café floor area to provide water in an emergency.
Originally the carpark wings were visually incorporated with the main tower block, but facade removal and the incorporation of a crisp white cladding now delineates them from the central tower, bringing the tower into sharp relief. Robert has brought human scale at street level with the use of multi-faceted canopies.
But Weir Architecture is also an award-winning house designer too. Robert enjoys the challenges of residential and loves working with his clients. Many clients have built three houses with him over 30 years, as their life stages changed. His modern style is softened with colour and sophisticated detailing; creating spaces that flow seamlessly is a trademark.