Rebuilding the Future of Christchurch

Massive earthquakes destroyed buildings in the New Zealand city, but architects are winning the day with sustainable design in award-winning new construction.
30 June, 2017
Tragedy struck Christchurch in February 2011, when a 6.3-magnitude earthquake claimed 185 lives and damaged buildings across the city and its suburbs.
The quake, which came on the heels of an even larger September 2010 temblor that had already weakened structures and the land beneath them, either destroyed or compromised some 170,000 buildings. The hard work of rebuilding continues today.

Among the projects are new homes like the Fendalton Road House and Knowles House, each either replacing or extensively reconstructing structures that were lost to the quake. These projects recently won the 2017 Canterbury Architecture Awards, along with Kotare Street House by C Nott Architects.
Kotare Street Image: NOTT
Many of the new projects integrate aluminium into their design and construction, and Kotare House is no exception. It was described as "a calming riverside masterpiece" by the jurists who decided the awards.

The home along the Avon River is designed so that the main living area is along the water, part of a sequence of gabled structures connected to each other as defined spaces. The bedrooms, for example, wrap around a central courtyard that creates an oasis of privacy. From the street, an inviting pathway welcomes guests who catch a glimpse of the garden and greenhouse studio in an attractive exterior.
Images: NOTT
That exterior is one of the reasons that C Nott received an award: The light-colored volcanic Hinuera stone found in New Zealand's Waikato region is often used in local construction, appearing in everything from cladding to garden stone. At the Kotare Street site, the stone is paired with darker aluminium cladding that helps to create a unified look among the spaces, earning it the Resene Colour Award.

Yet the house also was noted for the elegance with which it blends into the existing neighborhood, each protected by a courtyard wall or "living curtain" of shrubs and plants that buffers them from the road. The Kotare Street House honors the gabled roofs and gardens of nearby homes in the Fendalton community, while making use of full-length glass walls, aluminium cladding and other modern materials.
Images: NOTT
A second award went to C Nott for its Montreal Street House, with its roof and exterior cladding in an identical brick red that's striking but sensitive to the housing around it. The street-side metal fencing matches – and whimsical metal sculptures of flowers set into barrels do too – but the interior courtyard surface on single-story rooms facing the patio is a bright sky blue to connect two "wings" of the house.

"This successful project shows an architect and client working in harmony and creating something unique: what a great house for three generations of a twenty-first century family looking to move on after the earthquake," the judges said, praising the apertures and views, and other aesthetics. C Nott also received a third award for an upscale, electric-blue fish and chips restaurant called Fush.
Among the other winners was Wilson and Hill Architects, honored in the multi-housing category for the Rakaia Apartments. Built with precast concrete, steel and aluminium detailing, the five-story building features one- and two-bedroom apartments in the downtown area. It is notable for a configuration that allows people to buy two adjacent units if they wish to expand and combine two units, and is meant to be an affordable housing option at the core of downtown Christchurch—keeping homes at its heart.
Banner image: Sheprout