Newsroom reviews Christchurch Architecture


‘It’s a very ordinary scene in New Zealand’s second or third largest city, and most of us barely notice the architectural wonder around us. The Hine-Pāka Christchurch Bus Interchange, to give it the full title no one ever uses, opened in 2015 to little of the fuss or drama that has characterised most of the post-earthquake rebuild in the city. And why would it have? It was a straightforward idea; it was built in the right place; it does what it should. As architecture writer John Walsh says in the informed and elegant book, Christchurch Architecture: A Walking Guide, “it set a reassuring precedent for new public architecture in the city”.

‘Walsh points out a few important things that have never occurred to me during the accumulated hours I’ve spent waiting for the number 17. There is the way “the dramatic folded roof provides generous internal volume and signals the building’s presence, and is also a hat-tip to the local Gothic tradition”. Even more interesting than that, though, is what the building says about public transport priorities. Railway stations were once grand structures that signalled an entrance to the city, while bus stations were “desultory waiting or loitering areas from which cold draughts never managed to dispel foul air”. Trains were class, buses were trash. But this 21st century revamp even features “underfloor heating! natural light! clean toilets!”, as Walsh riffs excitedly.’

Read the full review here.