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Timber Design Awards

The Arcades Project

Christchurch is beleaguered with bare vacant sites. While there has been a surge of temporary community projects and budding commercial activities on vacant land, the range of undertakings that can transpire on a fallow site is limited.

Towards that end, we were interested in exploring possibilities of temporary architecture to inspire, provoke and advance the range of projects that can be undertaken on vacant sites in Christchurch.

We developed a brief for the Arcades Project: a series of decorative arches that would serve as a pedestrian throughway but also a destination for markets, shops and other temporary structures along both sides. The brief suggested that particular design consideration should be given to how additional structures, shelters, tents, etc, could be integrated into the whole; that the design should consider Building Consent exemption regulations; and that the structures should have an all-weather life of at least five years.

The brief was answered with an elegant Glulam design by Andrew Just. Based on the gothic proportions of the entryway to Benjamin Mountfort’s heavily-damaged Canterbury Provincial Council Building, these exposed timber structures are both a nod to the past and a model for a possible architectural future of graceful and unpretentious public structures. Classed as pergolas, and therefore exempt from Building Consent, these beautiful arches have an estimated material life of 25 years. Initially placed on the site of the former Crowne Plaza Hotel, they form a highly visible walkway from Victoria Street into Victoria Square and have already influenced thinking about the future development of that site.

Photos by Wolfgang Just