Christchurch rebuild architecture celebrated at NZIA Canterbury Awards

June 6, 2019
​The Christchurch rebuild continues to generate innovative architecture, with projects in the city winning majority of this year’s NZIA Canterbury Architecture Awards.​

The annual Canterbury New Zealand Institute of Architects local awards were held last night at the recently reopened Christchurch Town Hall.

The convenor of the award's jury was Christchurch-based architect Andrew Watson. He noted of the winners, "It's been an impressive year for buildings with important social roles to play. From Christchurch's new library and the heritage Arts Centre, through smaller libraries and community buildings in Dunsandel, Leeston and Woolston, it has been inspiring to visit buildings so successfully designed around the needs of people and well-integrated into their communities."

Watson was joined on the judging panel by Auckland architect Jessica Barter, Christchurch architect Hamish Shaw, and Luke Porter, a Christchurch-based landscape architect.

Warren and Mahoney was honoured to receive five awards in the Public, Heritage, Commercial, Housing and Housing - Multi-Unit categories.

The high quality restoration of Christchurch Arts Centre's DA and CE Buildings saw Warren and Mahoney receive awards in both the heritage and public architecture categories. "Few buildings say 'Christchurch' like the Gothic Revival Arts Centre," the jury said. "Warren and Mahoney has restored these important buildings to public use in ways that are warmer, stronger and more accessible."​

The Arts Centre of Christchurch - DA and CE Buildings - Heritage Award

"The people of Christchurch cherish the Gothic Revival buildings of the Arts Centre, badly damaged in the 2011 earthquakes. The subsequent repairs allowed an upgrade and rethinking of these historic buildings. The DA and CE buildings are polished and careful restorations strengthened by the clever insertion of contemporary elements. Decades of makeshift and ad hoc alterations have been stripped out to reveal the inherent beauty of the ornate timber and stonework. A pared-back palette of white-painted walls and ceilings show off the quirky gothic spaces and deep-reveal windows. All new elements are uncompromisingly contemporary and sit elegantly within the heavy architecture rather than competing with it. An inspired decision to use grey-blue metal cladding on an exterior element gently nods to the soft turquoise patina of existing copper roofs. The view from a new rooftop balcony reveals the extent of the restoration – zinc flashings, cream stonework and custom-made downpipes. The extensive strengthening and restoration work has been achieved with barely a trace. These heritage buildings have been returned to public use warmer, stronger and more accessible."

The Arts Centre of Christchurch - DA and CE Buildings - Public Award

"Few buildings say 'Christchurch' like the Gothic Revival Arts Centre. The iconic collection of heritage buildings occupy a city block and are a unique part of the cultural and architectural heritage of the city. If there are any benefits resulting from the devastating earthquakes of 2010 and 2011, one might be that the subsequent repairs to the Arts Centre created an opportunity to reassess the relationship of the buildings and their urban context. In the many years of sensitive restoration, new life has been breathed into the 100-plus-year-old structure. The street facade has been reactivated, accessible doors and lifts make the buildings available to more of the public, and a new programme of spaces – including boutique movie theatres, co-working spaces and apartments – mean that it's also now possible to engage with this wonderful asset on many levels. With its post-earthquake restoration now past the half-way mark, it is uplifting to see the Arts Centre once again occupy a central place in Christchurch's cultural landscape." - Jury citation

One Central - Housing - Multi-Unit

"These rigorously designed terrace houses in Christchurch's residential East Frame raise the bar for quality medium-density residential architecture in the city. The three-level dwellings speak the architectural language of delineated gables, voluminous spaces and private patios – a clear reference to the history of the Christchurch style. Generosity to residents and to the city is also a design hallmark, with a common courtyard promoting community development and the street interface softened by patios that form a visual buffer between public and private space." - Jury citation

Desmond House - Housing

"This large family home, with a strongly geometric, low-slung form, sits like a shadow on the Merivale riverbank. The exterior is entirely clad in black, which creates an air of mystery when viewed from the road, however, enter the abstracted planes and you'll find a series of unexpectedly voluminous, light-filled spaces that open up to views of the lush park and river landscape beyond. One part rock star, one part understated family haven on a tight suburban street – this house straddles an unusual dichotomy without missing a beat." - Jury citation

Awly Building - Commercial

"The deft handling of a large urban block has produced a distinct yet contextual piece of city making with an architectural 'fitness' that all buildings should strive for. The optimisation of building plan and massing to achieve naturally lit working environments, roof decks and a sheltered central outdoor courtyard is a fundamental success in the building's sustainability mandate. The differential façade treatment elegantly responds to the changing solar demands of each elevation, while maintaining a conversation with the historical grain and texture of the street. The subtlety and restraint of the Awly Building add welcome sophistication and legibility to the neighbourhood, which is further strengthened by the street-front colonnade and publicly accessible courtyard." - Jury citation​

“In partnership with our clients, The Arts Centre of Christchurch, Ōtākaro Limited and Fletcher Living, Awly Investments and our client for Desmond House, we were delighted to receive these awards across such a diverse range of categories. Congratulations to our clients and all involved in these incredible projects”, says Jonathan Coote, Christchurch Studio Principal.