Blog:

Central Christchurch: A Unique Neighbourhood


 

The Verve Precinct

In this latest blog series, we are going to explore the different ways the central city is being occupied after the disastrous earthquakes that changed our city forever

As a practice, we want to introduce housing typologies and demonstrate the different ways to inhabit the city center

We believe, although many perceive us as architects of suburban family homes, we are experts in creating environments for people to live in These come in all shapes and sizes We know our skill

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 20 – TIME TO RELAX


As we piled into the cars (dog and cat included!) for our first holiday weekend at the bach, I couldn’t help but think of all the things we had to do once we arrived Although the bach is technically finished, with just a few bits and pieces to be tidied up, and thankfully no longer a building site, to me, it is still a project I haven’t reached that point where I think of it as a relaxing home-away-from-home, instead I

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 19 – NOT ALL PLANS WORK OUT AS INTENDED


The reality was, we couldn’t spend the week of the school holidays at the bach It was just too incomplete And we needed to be out of the way so the guys on site could get their work done Although disappointed, we had to be practical, there was still too much going on on-site that, not only would we have gotten in the way, it wouldn’t have been the quiet and relaxing (and dust free!!) break we wanted Essentially it was

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A Missing Layer


As our city continues to strive forward in its rebuild, architect Cymon Allfrey questions whether we are building a city without substance  

As you walk the streets of any central city you notice and engage with the buildings that stand out, that ignite a reaction, that have character Yet if we peel back the layers, of any city, it is the buildings that pose no real architectural interest or value that are the ones which add the greatest character to the city

They are the ones that bring diversity of

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 18 – FINDING THE RIGHT MIX


Right from the outset we’ve had a vision of camping when we thought about the bach It will be the anthesis of our Merivale home and we want our interior spaces to evoke memories of camping from my childhood We see the bach feeling like the little cabin the camping ground; the space, the conditions and the colours and finishes We feel that our form and design reflects this concept, we just have to find the appropriate furniture and ‘stuff’ to put

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 17 – WE CAN’T CONTROL THE WEATHER


Although in my last blog I raved about how wonderfully the Plan A and Plan B system had been working for us, I may have spoken a little too soon! Cyclone Debbie has meant Plan B has been in action for some time and so we are rapidly approaching the end of interiors But unfortunately, due to all the wet weather, Plan A just hasn’t been happening

Our painter has almost finished, in fact he is getting a little frustrated sharing such

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Medium-Density Housing – Is It For Us?


Architect Cymon Allfrey offers an insight into why we need to rethink how we live and embrace a new style of home

Medium density housing in New Zealand has been defined by the Ministry for the Environment as ‘comprehensive developments including four or more dwellings with an average density of less than 350m2 per unit It can include stand-alone dwellings, semi-attached, terraced housing or apartments, within a building of four storeys or less’

With the quarter acre Kiwi dream no longer viable within most of our cities, we need to reconsider

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 16 – APPROACHING THE END


What a difference two weeks can make!

Arriving on site, change is everywhere The services are all done and in (except for the photovoltaics that are coming in a few days), the inspectors have come and gone and we are all signed off for lining and most importantly, the windows are all in! Which is a nice milestone as the bach is now a lock up shell

Although there is still some uncertainty about programme, we are getting to the other side and

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 15 – SLOW PROGRESS


I have found myself in an odd situation We have become so accustomed to seeing significant change when we visit the site; we went from standing on bare land to standing on the floor to standing in the structure all in a matter of weeks And now, I find myself standing in the main structure and I can’t see any obvious progress It is the most deflated I have felt during this whole process, even

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 14 – THE JOYS OF BUILDING


Often, to prepare them for what’s to come, we will say to clients that there are ten thousand decisions to make when building a house I’ve never counted the exact number but it seems like a fair guess! Throughout the decision-making process, architects offer guidance and frequently take on a sounding board role so clients have someone to bounce ideas around with to ensure a confident decision that will not compromise the critical path But, building our bach, I am both

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Beyond the Foreground


When it comes to building, only a small portion of homeowners are turning to a design professional to realize their dreams Architect Cymon Allfrey questions why the value an architect can bring to a project is so easily dismissed 

February saw internationally renowned Ghanaian-British architect Sir David Adjaye come to our shores Knighted for being one of the leading architects of his generation and a global cultural ambassador for the UK, he is recognised as a ‘world of influence in architecture’ Yet in a radio interview with one of our

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 13 – AND IT BEGINS…


Woo Hoo! We have finally got consent!! The start date is looming and we are almost ready to go!! I’ve made the decision to invest a week of time tying up the loose ends, I’m an obsessive list maker and need to feel like I’m ticking things off before we get onsite, meeting up with Aaron to check we are on the same page should also help with the anxiety that is building!
I have now fully realised the perils of our choices in the documentation process, not drawing the fabrication

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 12 – PRICING ANGUISH


As we had made the decision to work with Aaron and California Homes early in the piece, much of the tension was taken out of the way a project normally proceeds There was no tender process to select the best price, we knew Aaron was the best fit for the project and was the obvious choice But like many of my clients, I’m worried that we have to put our complete trust in Aaron, trust is all we have got to rely on And that can be a scary

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 11 – REDUCING OUR CARBON FOOTPRINT


As the title of my first blog suggests Ange and I see the bach as a legacy for our family to enjoy for many years to come We hope that our family will own it for a long time and our daughters will continue to use it long after we’ve gone However, we are mindful that while we have committed capital into it, we don’t want it to remain a financial burden for us or our daughters

Many of our clients have similar mindsets, they are in a stage of

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 10 – THE FIGHT FOR THE FOLLY


The moment has arrived, it is finally time to lodge for consent! Neville and the team at Kirk Roberts have finished the documentation and all the certification has been done I’ve written (and re-written!) my resource consent application arguments fighting our case, now all we can do is wait Wait to see if the council approves our design, wait to see if they buy into our Kiwi Bach dream, wait to see if we can actually make this a reality

As I have mentioned previously, this whole process has been a challenge

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Unforeseen Casualties


As a different set of cracks begin to show, architect Cymon Allfrey reflects on Christchurch six years since the February quakes

This time of year brings with it reflection on the recovery and rebuild of our city, and its people In the days, weeks, months and first few years following the February 22 earthquake we worked our way through a period of recovery; before moving into a period of rebuilding

The fallout of the earthquakes left no stone unturned, no one was left unaffected and for a long time the devastation

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 9 – A HANDY MAN


In parallel with all of our design changes, we are also trying to appoint new people to the team, some of whom are struggling with our concepts! One of the many advantages of using CAD drafting systems is that the 3D models that drop out of them can be rendered to produce realistic images These renders allow us to start seeing the finished product, how the bach fits into the environment, the views from different windows and really start to get a feel for how it all works together

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 8 – UNIQUE SMALL STRUCTURES OR BORING STORAGE SHEDS?


It didn’t take me long to fall back in love with our design, the simplicity of the structures and the way they flow together on the site is exactly what we wanted, I just needed a little push to fully commit All along we have crafted the design to maintain the character and qualities of a bach, embracing the look of being ‘hand-made’ Now that we have committed to a design, I feel I want to take this notion a step further, not hiding behind gib stopping and painting

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 7 – OVERCOME WITH DOUBT


As many husbands will tell you, it can be very difficult to know when your wife is unhappy about something But as all wives will declare, it can take a jack hammer to the head to make your husband notice how you are feeling After years of marriage I know I should have picked up on it sooner, Ange was noticeably unconvinced about the folly She couldn’t get her head around the sheer purposelessness of the structure nor the need for it to be so vastly different from the

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 6 – EVOLUTION OF THE FOLLY


A Folly! It used to be that every wealthy Estate in England would have at least one folly on their grounds Ranging from mock Roman temples, Egyptian pyramids, Tatar tents and all variety of unusual and striking designs Traditionally appearing to have no practice purpose, simply providing decoration and a symbol of status, ultimately the term is used to describe a small building that shows folly or foolishness on behalf of the builder  Can we adapt that concept for our own use? Stretch the notion of pushing the boundaries

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 5 – JUMPING ON THE DESIGN TRAIN


Now that we have all had a break over Christmas, it is time to get back into it Time to reassure Jade and Aaron this is a project they want to be involved in

With a team in place, we need to sell the whole notion of what we are trying to achieve We need them to buy into our dream I wonder if Pinot and Beer will help seal the deal…

Getting the team around the table to thrash out some ideas, I set down some instructions; we want them

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A Breath of Fresh Air


Put your walking shoes on, and explore the inner city this summer Architect Cymon Allfrey shares his must-walk route

The end of one year, and the beginning of the next is always a time to reflect on what has been and look forward to what is to come When it comes to our cityscape and built environment the best way to do this is by foot In past years I have suggested this is done following key roads, from one building to another This year however the route is dictated

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 4 – THE A TEAM


Instead of jumping on a plane to Europe to dodge decisions, I know we need to initiate new members into our team to get this project off the ground So far, our design team has simply consisted of the four of us but to achieve the result we want, our design team will need to expand, incorporating a builder and engineer

When recommending an external consultant to clients, I consider the best fit for the project and for the personalities involved, the uniqueness of the build and competency of the

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 3 – KIWI CAMPING COMPROMISES


Up until this point I have not had to be an architect, but simply a father, a husband and an investor Now that the purchase of the site is finalised, we have to decide what buildings we are going to put on it My first response is to start drawing So I do Like a mad man It isn’t until I show my family the initial sketches that I realise the misstep I have taken Although Angela appreciated the work in my designs, I did not consult her or

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 2 – TIME TO MAKE DECISIONS


The questions sure are piling up quickly! It’s as though as soon as one decision is made, another follows requiring immediate attention I can now truly appreciate how overwhelmed some of our clients must feel in the beginning stages of their design and build journey, with so many details to be finalised, the initial excitement can so quickly turn to stress!

Before we can begin discussing our options, I set my family a challenge; to really think about the way they want to live in the bach and to consider

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THE ADVENTURES OF A BACH BUILD: PART 1 – A LEGACY FOR MY FAMILY


Like many kiwis, my wife Angela and I have often dreamed of building a holiday home to enjoy with family and friends as we grow older A bach to make the most of this beautiful country, a private paradise to escape the daily grind with little notice, a home away from home to create memories with our family About 12 years ago we were very close to making that dream a reality, very nearly purchasing a site, but after some considerable deliberation; we determined it simply wasn’t the right

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The Perfect Recipe


Architect Cymon Allfrey questions whether the pressures of a post-quake environment is changing the design process

What makes one home more interesting than another? The specific property, raising this train of thought is an award-winning home we designed here in Christchurch, which has gained both local and international attention It got me thinking: why this home, and not others?

From the outset this property was special The site was well orientated for the sun, boasted fantastic established planting and was private and peaceful, despite being on a waterway

As well as the

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Learning to Love and Appreciate


Architect Cymon Allfrey explains why we should sow the seed, and let the wasteland that is earmarked to be our future Stadium earn its place in our hearts 

There were a number of initiatives that were undertaken to generate the vision of our central city They offered an opportunity for us to have our say and from these initiatives, and the subsequent blueprint for a post-quake Christchurch, emerged anchor projects Large scale public buildings that will bring opportunity and activity to the city

However, these anchor projects have divided the public

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The space in between


Having recently returned from Italy and the Venice Architectural Biennale, Architect Cymon Allfrey is questioning whether we need to be thinking outside of the box when it comes to our urban spaces 

Offering an international platform on which to experience architecture as a built environment, the La Biennale di Venzia, or the Venice Biennale, is a forum of education and inspiration For my colleague, and I, it was a forum which added a third dimension to the glossy pictures, web-based seminars and articles that we typically refer to

The curated exhibition

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Activating the edges


With the cluster of buildings surrounding the Square – each aligned with enjoyment and gathering – this is a space to watch!

As you all know, I am a passionate advocator for the Town Hall restoration Viewing photos of the work being completed inspired my thinking about that area of Christchurch and the extensive development being undertaken, and about to start

The grid layout of our inner city streets is an important aspect of our history and one that we need to retain and embrace As a combined area, it is

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The South Frame


Architect Cymon Allfrey takes a walk through the proposed South Frame, leaving him excited about this development 

As we zig-zagged our way through empty sections, demolition, car yards and new building sites, we could see the vision begin to unfold

Identified as playing a crucial role in creating a greener, better connected central city, the South Frame is set to be comprised of four large interconnected areas designed to create space for events, performances, public art and markets Covering three blocks it links the Innovation and Health precincts and is bordered

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Award winning: what does it really mean?


With the architectural award season upon us, architect Cymon Allfrey asks whether the public really agree with the judges

Celebrating architecture is something we should be undertaking as a community: something that should be driven by the individuals, and general public, who experience the building on a daily basis So why do we only celebrate architecture within programmes that dovetail directly into organised societies goals and objectives?

From the Canterbury Heritage Awards to the New Zealand Architecture awards, there are numerous programmes that celebrate successful buildings’, be they residential or commercial

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It’s what’s on the inside that counts


Architect Cymon Allfrey shares his thoughts on why we should be looking inward when it comes to architecture

Architecture is not simply about being shiny and new, it is about well-crafted, well-organised spaces that enhance living, not limit it For many however, architecture is only considered as an external benefit, as a tool that has been utilised to craft a well orientated, well dressed ‘shell’ of a structure on a site And it is often not until you step inside the ‘shell’ and are able to appreciate the space within,

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It doesn’t have to be love at first sight


Architect Cymon Allfrey reflects on why one day we will look back and recognise that what we have achieved is a unique style of architecture, just for us

There are a number of varying opinions around the aesthetic quality of the architecture that is emerging in our post quake commercial environment Love it or hate it, it is a developing cityscape that tells a unique story And is shaping an architectural style that is ours, and ours alone

In Christchurch, we have several factors influencing our built landscape, factors which go

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How protected are you?


What would happen if your builder went into receivership part way through your build? Architect Cymon Allfrey explores the possibility of proportionate liability insurance

Watching the news around Stonewood Homes unfold has captivated many in the construction sector While they aren’t the first, and sadly won’t be the last to go into receivership, as a big player in the industry it will be interesting to see how this will impact the market as a whole

For those home builders affected, the Registered Master Builders Association were quick to assure

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City living


As the designer of The Verve Apartments on Peterborough Street, architect Cymon Allfrey explains why our thinking needs to change when it comes to inner city living 

From an architectural perspective, apartment living is about blending the convenience of central amenities with the requirements of a typical suburban home Bringing the two together can be a challenge

With a high level of off-site amenity comes another layer of complexities, the most notable being a ‘compromised’ form of privacy, as with apartment living comes shared spaces In their simplest form they are

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Five years on


As we reflect on the last five years, Architect Cymon Allfrey asks us to look forward – is our greatest challenge yet to come?

Towards the end of last year I was asked to present at the Architectural Designers New Zealand (ADNZ) conference about how we, as a design community, responded to the events of 04 September 2010 and 22 February 2011 Centered on the days and weeks immediately after these events unfolded, the presentation was designed to provide an insight into Christchurch at that time As a lead-in to

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Street appeal


Street art could be described as an art movement in its infancy but what is most exciting is that Christchurch is becoming its international centre Architect Cymon Allfrey explains

Throughout the rebuild, and particularly in the last eighteen months as the soul of the city returns, we have talked about how our city can make its mark How we can be special, and stand apart from others Street-art is one of those ways

For George Shaw his obsession with street-art began with the simple act of buying a t-shirt

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