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Arcades to revitalise old Crowne Plaza site

23 May 2013

Arcades to revitalise old Crowne Plaza site

A striking temporary structure is set to bring new life to the central city and facilitate events in Christchurch’s former Crowne Plaza site.

Construction of the impressive series of six-metre-high vault-like frames, named The Arcades Project, began on Monday and should be completed by the end of the month. The structures will create two arcades, each consisting of five bays, leading from Victoria Street to the entrance to Victoria Square.

The joint initiative led by the Festival of Transitional Architecture (FESTA), architecture graduate Andrew Just and Dr Ryan Reynolds (lecturer in Theatre and Film Studies at the University of Canterbury), and Life in Vacant Spaces will be relocatable and reconfigurable with the potential to enliven vacant sites around the city for the next 25 years.

Arcades designer Andrew Just (also responsible for Artbox) says the forms will give visual and spatial focus to a site and offer a structure for many potential uses. “It is both a dramatic framework for temporary activity on a site and also a piece of urban design offering amenity to the site and its surrounds.”

The Arcades Project’s shapes are inspired by the stone entrance to Canterbury’s Provincial Council Buildings. “The form links to our Gothic Revival heritage while the use of engineered timber hints at a possible architectural future for the city.”

Just says the frames are strong enough to be covered or provide support for electricity and lighting, depending on the events they are hosting. “They are particularly designed with markets in mind, which can be slotted in along the sides. But we also see them inspiring all kinds of pop-up activity, including outdoor performances.

The Arcades will become a key site for the second Festival of Transitional Architecture in October. FESTA director Dr Jessica Halliday says the project could not have happened without a great deal of community support. “Local and national companies have donated significant in-kind support and given advice to make this happen. It really goes to show the incredible goodwill and excitement to make the transitional city a beautiful and lively place.”

Local and national sponsors for The Arcades Project include Hunterbond, Nelson; Christchurch City Council (Transitional City Project Fund); Aurecon; Calcon; Takahe Construction; Smith Crane & Construction; Chapman Engineering; NZ Steel, Steel & Tube; Hirepool; Crown Lift Trucks; NZ Wood; H W Hendriks Sons & Daughter Ltd; Carter Holt Harvey; Fahey Fence Hire; General Cable; Lighting Design (Kevin Cawley); Metaform; Marley; PCL Adhesives; Dryden WoodOil; Arrow International; Blacks Fasteners; Firth; International Coatings; Sign Displays; Lucas Safety; F3 Design and Tradestaff.

The Arcades are available for community and public events by contacting Life in Vacant Spaces.


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