Architects agree on the way forward for Christchurch Rebuild

As an urgent public service response to Christchurch’s recent devastating earthquakes, a good number of Christchurch’s Architects who feel passionately about the city, including some of its most respected and experienced practitioners, have for some months been volunteering their time to consider and work on strategies and ideas for the reconstruction of the central city.

With the input of other invited professionals and stakeholders of high standing, the working group identified that the future viability of Christchurch as a major cultural and economic hub is genuinely at risk and that new and bold planning initiatives are required to address this crisis.

As a first response, we undertook a number of design case studies using some key under performing sites across the city to generate ideas addressing the character and planning of the precincts they occupy. A computer model of the entire CBD incorporating these was generated.

Our intention is to share these preliminary outcomes with the public as well as with Council, but we acknowledge that much more remains to be done and considered before we can reach anything like a complete or coherent design solution for the rebuilding of Christchurch.

Even so, strong consensus as to the way forward was evident amongst all participants in the group, and from a very early stage. Twelve key strategic recommendations have emerged (see NZIA submission for details).

As Architects, we hope that Council will come to recognize that the profession does indeed have the expertise to share this urgent task of re-planning the city, and that it will engage directly with us, acknowledging a substantial on-going role for Christchurch’s Architects in all strategic planning processes and decision making, before it is too late to matter.

With the willingness of Council and other stakeholders to act boldly and to collaborate deeply on a design led process with the very profession that built the city and understands it so well, we conclude that Christchurch can transcend this crisis, and that we can all look forward to a very exciting future indeed.

The full submission is available here: NZIA-CANTERBURY-Recommendations-for-a-Design-Led-Reconstruction-of-the-Christchurch-City-Centre

Below are some of the images that emerged from this preliminary design exploration process

Your comments welcome!

Paul King Architect | Christchurch | New Zealand | (03) 383 4592 |

5 Comments - Leave a comment
  1. Uli says:

    If architects do not have the expertise who on earth does? To someone looking from the other side of the world it seems as though you have a fear that architects are being sidelined and their knowledge ignored. Please say this is not so. You are the city’s saviours.

    • Hi Uli – sadly that is exactly what seems to be happening. All the internal interests within Council (planners, traffic engineers and other special interests) seem to think this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to remake Christchurch to suit their own agendas. Extreme reluctance to acknowledge the role or input of local architects at anything other than a superficial level – we are presumably too hard to control. Council have taken on board input from Jan Gehl, a Danish architectural/urban planning practice, who have certainly made some positive recommendations, but these have been cherry picked by council, and the means of implementation have been determined by council, with all the misguided attempts to dictate outcomes in the same old rule based rather than design based ways, that have failed to deliver good urban design or good architecture, and in fact generated the very opposite, again and again in the past …

  2. Dear sirs,

    I’d like to offer my 2c worth with regard to style, that is stylistic continuity could be maintained by using Adelaide’s buildings and civic design as templates. Basically if you can deliver on running costs you can theoretically design as you like, you can make Christchurch into a renaissance city.

  3. now that I’ve read the article, yes managers should stick to managing people and situations, that’s what they’re trained for and experienced in and leave civic design to those trained to do it. That would be the intelligent course……

Leave a comment

August 2020

Welcome , today is Tuesday, August 11, 2020