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Public Realm

Rebuilt convention centre brings city back to life

“Exquisitely designed to harmonize with the context. Careful consideration has been given to various aspects encompassing the concept and architectural aesthetics for this specific location,” Misak Terzibasiyan, Judge

Project: Te Pāe Christchurch Convention Centre

Award: Public Realm, Bronze, 2023

Location: Christchurch, New Zealand

Architect: Woods Bagot in association with Warren and Mahoney

Client: Ōtākaro

The 2011 Christchurch earthquake caused extensive damage to buildings and infrastructure, claiming the former convention centre and with it, the lives of 185 Christchurch residents. Emerging from the disaster, the local government prepared the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan, initiating the conception of a series of “anchor” projects designed to bring the city back to life. The new Te Pae Christchurch Convention Centre was among them. 

The architects eschew the "big box" typology of traditional conference and convention centres, using a contoured profile that is smaller in scale, while still comprising a 1,400-seat auditorium, a 3,600 square metre exhibition hall, and 1,600 square metres of meeting rooms. The building's undulating silhouette echoes the formation of the nearby Southern Alps, and sinuous glazed windows ribbon the building facade, referencing the meandering river systems.

Design highlights
The fluid facade is made from nearly 43,000 tiles in an ornate herringbone arrangement, each individually numbered and placed and with varied tones and textures inspired by the rich palette of the natural landscape.
The detailed tile configuration is intended to evoke the unique braided rivers – a rare geographical feature endemic to the Canterbury Plains – creating a visual language that defines the building entryways and frames its outlooks which are oriented to face over Avon River.


Photo credit: Dennis Radermacher, Lightforge

  • LEAD ARCHITECT: Bruno Mendes

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