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Christchurch-facade
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Te Pae Christchurch River Facade Taking Shape

The braided river effect of Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre’s façade is taking shape, with CPB Contractors having now installed a quarter of the 43,000 herringbone tiles.

Ōtākaro Limited chief executive, John Bridgman, says achieving this iconic look has been a significant feat of architecture and engineering.

“Each of the fiber cement tiles is placed individually on a panel in a layout that creates the look of a braided Canterbury river,” Bridgman says. “But color is only one part of the equation, with a complex curved steel structure to support the 1604 panels required to deliver the full effect. This prime central city location was chosen for Te Pae Christchurch because it’s on the doorstep of some of the best dining, shopping and accommodation Christchurch has to offer. It also ensured we did all we could to deliver a facility befitting this prominent riverside site, and the significant buildings surrounding it.”

Woods Bagot principal and design leader, Bruno Mendes, says seeing Te Pae Christchurch come alive makes it worth all the effort.

“The design is for a fluid and undulating façade that responds to the cultural narrative of the local iwi and the undulating Avon River flowing through the city,” Mendes says.

Advising on Ngāi Tūāhuriri / Ngāi Tahu values and narratives, the Matapopore Charitable Trust was fully embedded in the design process, which Mendes said refined and reinforced the ‘braided rivers’ concept which started as an early idea.

“Principles of the unique Canterbury landscape are captured in the materiality. There are five varied tones of grey and different surface textures in the façade composition.” Mendes says. “The panel colors build on the interplay of shades and the characteristics of a living surface.”

Matapopore chairperson, Aroha Reriti-Crofts, says the concept for the façade is aligned with ki uta ki tai (from the mountains to the sea).

“The term relates to the the movement of water through the landscape and the numerous interactions it may have on its journey,” Reriti-Crofts, says. “Ki uta ki tai recognizes the interconnected nature of people, land and water. This concept also has a strong connection with both mahinga kai and whakapapa, which are two of the kaupapa that are being embedded into the Anchor Projects.”

The façade cladding is in fiber cement tiles, which are produced using mineral base materials. Fiber cement production has 90 percent less global warming potential than aluminum sheeting. The tiles will last for over 50 years and are fully recyclable.

The Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre is designed by Woods Bagot in association with Warren and Mahoney. It is being delivered by Ōtākaro, the government-owned company set up to deliver the Crown-led anchor projects in central Christchurch.

In 2011, a devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand, caused 185 deaths and over 1,500 injuries. Amid the grief was the pain of a physically broken city which lost thousands of buildings. Immediately assisting on Christchurch’s recovery master plan, the architects were later commissioned to design the new convention center.

Primarily a building driven by its place and the diverse cultural values of the people of Christchurch, Te Pae’s architecture culturally and geographically represents the region to local and international visitors, and will actively connect them to the regenerating city—an experience increasingly desired by convention center operators.

Woods Bagot Global Studio continually expands and challenges the expectations of multi-disciplinary architectural practice in a shifting, fast-moving digital era.  Its portfolio is worldwide in scope, diverse in scale and discipline, and encompasses some of the highest-profile projects currently under way in North America, Europe, Asia, Australasia and the Middle East. For more info, visit woodsbagot.com/projects/christchurch-convention-centre/

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