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What the Architect  Was Thinking – Maybe!

What the Architect Was Thinking – Maybe!


Richard Dalman gives us the answers to last month’s quiz and a further insight into Christchurch architecture. 

Did you take up my challenge last month and test your observational skills of Christchurch’s architecture? The design of many buildings are inspired by their location, sense of purpose or clever ideas – let’s check how many answers you got right.
The JB’s Discounter on the corner of Hills Road and Dudley Street has been designed as a “bag of lollies” – very appropriate for a dairy.
Knox Plaza in Victoria Street was conceived as a ribbon that wraps around to form an internal courtyard. I like how this looks like a small village of buildings and positively relates to Knox Church next door.
The louvres on the Young Hunter building in Victoria Street are fixed horizontally to the north as that is better to shade the sun when it is high in the sky to the north, and the vertical louvres facing the street work better when the sun is lower to the west.
I remember the late Paul Holmes and the architect of the Christchurch Casino, Bill Gregory, discussing at the opening how the building had been designed as an erupting volcano – take a look at the entrance next time you visit!
The BreakFree Hotel on Cashel Street (formerly Hotel So) has louvres that are painted yellow on one side and orange on the other. This gives the impression of the building changing colour as you walk by. When you are front-on to the building the louvres are almost invisible!
The 11 concrete fins on the new Salvation Army Building represent the Army’s 11 Articles of Faith.

The award-winning building that features cut-out ceiling panels that create dappled light shadows is the ilex building in the Botanic Gardens.
While the cardboard tubes appear to hold up the roof of the Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral, it is actually the LVL timber beams hidden within them that provide much of the structure. Apparently, the thickness of the cardboard in the tubes available in New Zealand was too thin, unlike other cardboard tubes that the architect, Shigeru Ban, has used for similar post-disaster projects around the world.
It is the regional lounge at the Christchurch International Airport that has been described as follows: “The folded form of the ceiling finds its origins in the Southern Alps which are a backdrop, the large timber truss represents the old timber trussed bridges found throughout the South Island, and the organic forms of the café and bespoke seating are found along the coastline as the forest meets the ocean with kelp swaying at the ocean edge.” While this may sound like a bit of waffle, have a look next time you are in the space and see what you think.
What is Christchurch’s best new building? Top of my list is the Transitional (Cardboard) Cathedral. And the best refurbished building, well, I vote for Mountfort’s Great Hall in the Arts Centre.
I will write about both of these buildings another time. In the meantime, keep experiencing the buildings, both old and new, and look out for the ideas behind them, and what makes them great or otherwise.