A peek into the future

Tuesday 5 July 2011, 4:12PM
By Christchurch City Council


A plan to redevelop the Orion Site on Gloucester Street by a group from NZ Wood won the Supreme Award at the 48 Hour Design Challenge over the weekend.

The event, run by the Christchurch City Council and held at Lincoln University, provided an opportunity for Council to gain inspiration from the design and architecture industry, while testing the draft Central City Plan currently being developed.

NZ Wood Team leader Jason Guiver says the 15,000m² site owned by Orion NZ has only four of its original seven buildings following the recent earthquakes.

“This gave us a lot to work with and we were actually able to provide more building space and an increased open area for pedestrians.

“Our main focus was to demonstrate the advantages of using timber technology that’s being developed here in Christchurch. Timber buildings that are designed in a certain way are safer and less likely to be damaged during an earthquake – and it doesn’t cost any more to build.”

The team’s concept incorporated green space, affordable apartment living, pedestrian access from Latimer Square through to the Avon River and it retained historical elements of the site.

Central City Plan Project Sponsor Mike Theelen says it was great to see a winning proposal that was clearly aligned to the Plan and ideas from the public.

“The public have indicated their desire for increased green spaces, as well as low-rise buildings that feel safe. People not only need to be told the city’s buildings are safe – they need to know why and to really trust this is the case. It all comes back to putting people at the centre of the Central City rebuild.”

A total of 15 teams took part in the Challenge, with seven people in each including engineers, planners, urban designers, architects and landscape architects, as well as one student on each team.

The four sites within the Red Zone included the Cathedral Square and BNZ Building; 160 Gloucester Street; the Orion NZ Building at 203 Gloucester Street; and 90 Armagh Street, including the Avon River and Victoria Square. The fifth site, which sits outside the Red Zone, is the former Christchurch Women’s Hospital at 885 Colombo Street.

NZ Wood was presented the Supreme Award at an awards ceremony on Sunday evening. Each participant won two nights accommodation for four people at Peppers Bluewater Resort in Tekapo.

The winning team’s student Ben Carter, who is studying engineering at Canterbury University, won a trip to Melbourne to take part in the City’s Landscape Urbanism Three Day Design Challenge from 25 to 30 July.

Mr Guiver says, “It was great to win, but we also just really enjoyed the whole event. I only had five hours sleep on the Friday night and then stayed up through to the end on Sunday – but it was well worth it.”

Images from the team’s final presentations are available online at the Share An Idea page.