A series of devastating earthquakes hit Christchurch on the South Island of New Zealand in 2011. Harakeke Village , Pita Kaik is an area on the edge the core area that had been effectively closed off, and a competition was run for four plots that had been levelled close to the River Avon. We collaborated closely with Chris Moller of CMA+U, with whom we have been working since being winners in the Gallipoli Peace Park Competition in 1998, along with Neil Thomas of Atelier One and a group of New Zealand colleagues based in Wellington.
The plots had to be able to developed separately but be part of a ‘whole’, and to mesh into a city-wide network of paths and courtyards that was superimposed onto the grid iron street pattern. Our concept was based on the seed pod of the iconic New Zealand Flax and was a mixed use building containing a small theatre, cafe, shops and housing. A former tributary of the Avon, filled in a century ago ran through the site, its liquefaction during the earthquake cause considerable damage, so we floated our building above the ground and invited the riverside ecology that had been replaced by a garden city landscape over the last century back to the site, onto and over the building. A living building skin with a wetland on the roof to clean grey water, plus photovoltaic arrays over native grassland engaged with the native flora that had started to come back to the abandoned area of the city. Parking was placed in the basement with a fern and bromiliad light well, and native kowhai trees growing through the courtyard deck.
Christchurch, New Zealand