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Central Christchurch: A Unique Neighbourhood- The Kilmore Street Apartment Complex

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While buildings are being ripped down around the city, it was a real treat to be working on a site where we had the opportunity to convert an existing building (having been designed specifically for the Canterbury Commerce Club) and construct a new apartment building alongside to create a vibrant mixed-use complex. Combining 10 apartments and a commercial space, the development takes advantage of the tree lined street, views to the north and hills to the south, with large openings, private outdoor living spaces and large steel balconies.

Unlike traditional office buildings that shut down in the evening or residential properties that are often empty during the day, mixed-use developments are permanently occupied, alive with activity both during the day and at night. As the office space closes down in the evening, residents return home from work and the lights go on; revealing another facet to the development.

 

When approaching the design of the apartments, there was a desire to establish a sense of community between neighbours and encourage the occupants to get to know one another and bond on some level. Designer Don Roy created communal spaces between the apartments for residents to meet and socialize, and, purposely, has ensured all comings and goings from the apartments must be done through shared spaces, increasing the possibility of daily conversation and chance meetings. While this provides a lovely social aspect to the building, it also offers both the residential and business occupiers an extra layer of security. Not only is the site consistently occupied, residents know one another and keep an eye out for their neighbours and their properties.

The brief from our client endorsed the expansion of the site, adding approximately 50% more floor area, from an architectural perspective this allowed a higher level of complexity into the new building that was previously absent from the existing building. To create a sense of relationship between the two buildings, alterations were made to the existing building to produce a modern simple form replicated in the new building. Steel balconies were incorporated into both buildings, with the new building creating an active street edge with large living windows and angled concrete panels.

Individuality between the apartments was a high priority, taking into account where they sit in the complex, how they relate to one another, to the street and to the common spaces. Similar to the Kilmore Street Apartments of the last blog and Peterborough Housing Co-Op before that, we believe that a multi-unit development shouldn’t mean recreating the same apartment over and over but designing each ‘home’ for their specific site. In this case, the architecture of the complex helps to bind the apartments and their occupants together.

The next and final project in our series is the largest residential complex that Cymon Allfrey Architects have been involved in. Although still in the early stages, we are all very excited to see how The Verve Apartments enhances the Christchurch skyline.

Published on Friday, April 20th, 2018