Our urban city centre is becoming a vibrant, interesting place. As you prepare for the summer break, architect Craig 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, mostly 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 and the Bridge of Remembrance and past 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 hot spots at The Terrace or the bustling new Riverside development that boasts an indoor farmers market, linked with boutique shops, restaurants, cafes 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 St, with a health and wellbeing focus, is another great example of this.
You’ll find a dash of character too in the SALT district, home to some cool heritage buildings and alternative eats 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!
Published on Thursday, December 19th, 2019, under The Architecture