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Christchurch Architecture: A Walking Guide

Christchurch Architecture: A Walking Guide
Legacy and modernity meld in Christchurch architecture


Christchurch Architecture: A Walking Guide

Words John Walsh, photography Patrick Reynolds

A new book to be published in November shows that the best ways to appreciate the architecture of Christchurch is on foot.

The second in a series of urban walking guides written by well-known architecture writer John Walsh and photographed by Patrick Reynolds, Christchurch Architecture: A walking guide showcases 60 buildings along six central city walks.

It celebrates 150 years of Christchurch architecture, which is notable for its outstanding examples of architectural styles by the city’s eminent practitioners. As the book shows, the 2010/11 earthquakes did not destroy all the city’s fine body of heritage building, and striking new buildings are now rising from the empty lots.

The guide covers the area bounded by the ‘Four Avenues’ — Bealey, Fitzgerald, Moorhouse and Deans — as well as the important architectural site that is the Ilam campus of the University of Canterbury.

John Walsh says, ‘Of New Zealand’s four main cities, Christchurch is the most conscious of its architectural history. Although many buildings in the central city were lost in the earthquakes, quite a few important buildings have survived sufficiently intact to be saved and restored. And new buildings are starting to fill the gaps. The gap-filling will take a long time, but there is something optimistic about a city in the throes of becoming.’

The book shows how Gothic Revival, the ‘house style’ of the city’s Anglican establishment, and the Modernist architecture of the 1950s to 1970s drove the city’s architecture dynamism. It covers in detail two of this country’s strongest architectural sites: the Arts Centre complex and the buildings at Christ’s College.  Also included are Modernist buildings such as the Town Hall, CoCA Gallery and Sir Miles Warren’s former office, and new buildings such as the Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre and the public library, Tūranga.

Christchurch cares about its architecture and there are many reasons to be optimistic that it has a fine architectural future. Walsh and Reynolds’s guide is the perfect pocket companion for visitors to Christchurch and locals wanting to know more about their city

Further information: 


Written by

Sarah Thornton

18 Nov 2020