The project enhances access to the water and brings the spirit and ecology of the river (fluid) into a dialogue with the city (grid). The new promenade layers and thickens the edge of the city to catalyse new opportunities for access and occupation.
LandLAB have led the design for the Terraces river edge precinct – located at the epicentre of Christchurch’s city centre revitalisation – which transforms Oxford Terrace from a conventional street into a shared use zone prioritising pedestrian access, occupation and the integration of a new tram circuit. This new promenade and city edge condition provides the catalyst for Christchurch to turn and face the river and the key connecting element for the Avon River Park’s sequence of public realm experiences.
A series of terraced river edge structures celebrate the interaction of city and river and enable new engagements with the Avon – Ōtākaro for gathering, recreation and events. The heritage-listed Bridge of Remembrance and adjacent Park of Remembrance are refurbished and reworked to establish a cohesive rivers edge destination that reveals and celebrates an existing network of heritage listed monuments and landmarks.
The project incorporates a new low impact design strategy that treats promenade run-off prior to discharging this into the Avon as well as the ecological enhancement of the river corridor. LandLAB have provided the overall urban and landscape design leadership. Mana whenua collaboration and community engagement. Bespoke design elements and features. LID, Shared Space and open space design.
001 The City Promenade
The City Promenade establishes a new, continuous and vibrant edge, which fundamentally redefines the relationship between river and city. The Promenade provides a focal point where the flows of the river, community and commerce come together. It reconfigures the river edge from its pre-earthquake condition as a conventional vehicle dominated streetscape to a pedestrian priority precinct with shared use for cyclists and public transport, and limited/controlled access for private vehicles.
The promenade provides a common and familiar organising element which connects a variety of different conditions, experiences and activities along its length. The inclusion of integrated low impact design features, such as raingardens, brings the ecology of the river into the City and blurs the boundary between the two.
Its design narrative highlights the coming together of ‘River’ and ‘City’ into a distinctive and memorable Christchurch experience. Paving is expressed via a distributed pattern of light, medium and dark grey pavers, which establish a subtle but dynamic pattern, recalling the language of a braided river landscape. The variation in intensity and colour divides the single surface of the Promenade into 3 different character zones. The ‘light grey’ stone reflects the metamorphic ‘greywacke’ rocks (the Torlesse Composite ‘Rakaia’ and ‘Pahau’ Terrane) of the Canterbury ‘river’ landscapes and the ‘dark grey’ stone the basalt rock of the Mount Somers and Banks Peninsula ranges – more commonly associated with the stone masonry, architecture and construction of the ‘City’.
A ‘raingarden’ zone along the river side of the Promenade brings the ecology of the river into the City, and provides a green edge to the Promenade, highlights the movement of water through the river park system. The integration of low impact design facilitates the project partners environmental and sustainable design objectives and contributes to protecting the water quality and ecology of the river system. The extensive use of native plants within these garden areas expands the cities ecology and biodiversity.
The ‘city’ edge of the promenade brings with it infrastructure elements such as street trees, light columns and street furniture. These conventional streetscape elements will support the intensive occupation and use of the City edge and provide rhythm and structure to the Promenade. Importantly, the Promenade provides for existing and proposed development to reinforce it through complementary activities, design and new built form responses.
The Importance of a Shared Space Approach
The concept of shared space is based on civility, speaking as it does of facilitating a more effective and equitable use of public open space by all users. By adopting a shared space approach to how people and vehicles interact along the Promenade, we have created an environment that encourages all users to think responsibly about the needs of others occupying, using or moving through the ARP. The City Promenade design therefore;
⋅ minimises the definition of areas for motorists and pedestrians.
⋅ indicates that the Promenade is meant for equal sharing – implied priority for motorists is removed.
⋅ removes physical and psychological barriers to pedestrians fully utilising the Promenade as part of the wider public realm.
⋅ reclaims the Promenade as public realm space prioritised for pedestrian use.
⋅ encourages lower vehicle speeds along the Promenade whilst retaining essential vehicle access.
⋅ increases flexibility of use of the Promenade – a variety of activities can occur in the same Promenade space over any 24 hour period.
⋅ provides many more opportunities for the Promenade to better support retail, entertainment, food and beverage and other business uses along the City edge.
002 The Terraces
The Terraces precinct redefines the relationship between the city and the river. Oxford Terraces location and orientation provide the opportunity to bring together the ‘flows’ of ecology, community and commerce into a new waterfront food and beverage destination. This has been achieved by;
• supporting the creation and continuity of the City Promenade and river edge ‘as an economic catalyst and social hub for the City Centre.
• optimising opportunities for outdoor seating/ dining and public occupation.
• providing new opportunities to engage with, and connect to, the river and ‘touch the water’.
• enhancing the setting of the existing collection of heritage bridges and statues: in particular the context and experience of the Bridge of Remembrance.
• providing more flexible and robust spaces that support a wide variety of activities and occupation.
• respecting and enhance the ‘park like’ setting of the Park of Remembrance and the ‘left bank’
The terraces are constructed of a sculptural series of stone clad seats and bleachers that provide access and occupation of the river bank where the geometries of city (grid) and river (organic) overlap. The locations of these interventions enables a reciprocal relationship between the river banks and social occupation of the river for a range of new recreational opportunities from quiet contemplation to city celebrations.
The Terraces redefine the cities relationship with the river and incorporate bleachers, and accessible stairs to facilitate access to, and occupation of, the river’s edge. The variety of seating and access opportunities provides visual interest and social interaction. Hard and soft finishes are woven together. River level platforms provide for occupation immediately adjacent the water and create stages for events and performance, such as the Christchurch Lantern Festival.
The stairs and bleachers continue the materiality of the City Promenade and feature text based design interventions associated with Avon River Park Ngā Whāriki Manaaki and Literature Trail which reveal stories of the river and city.
Bridge of Remembrance
The Bridge of Remembrance (built in 1924) is a Category 1 listed feature that has been strengthened and modified to transformed it into a pedestrian plaza with a new ‘grand stair’ at the western interface with Cambridge Terrace. A new ramped connection provides an accessible and processional link, parallel to Cambridge Terrace and the Park of Remembrance. A reference to the Māori Battalion (5 x tribes) is proposed via a paving strategy incorporating the use of local Timaru Basalt flagstones and feature in-ground lighting.
Park of Remembrance
The ‘Park of Remembrance’ is amplified as a significant space for civic activity and recreation within the park corridor through a number of new interventions. New connections between the Bridge of Remembrance and Nicholas Sculpture contribute to the creation of a cultural precinct that resonates more strongly within the overall project. Within the park, circulation options and spatial flexibility is provided via a revised path system including bound aggregate surfacing.
Plant material choice within each precinct has been informed by the theme of ‘mahinga kai’ combined with site specific requirements (e.g. soil, exposure, land use). The plant palettes provide a combination of indigenous and exotic species that celebrate Christchurch’s gardening and botanical traditions.
The in-stream palette includes swamp species can grow here. On the outer edge of the plain are emergent reeds (such as spike-sedge and lake clubrush) that will extend a little further into the edge of the deeper channel. The bank palette includes mainly ferns, tussocks and some shrubs suitable for damp or shady banks generally protected by pre-existing tussocks or trees.
Bespoke city promenade and park lighting poles provide for new amenity and feature lighting that differentiates between the city side (continuous and cohesive) and the park (more relaxed and atmospheric). Feature lighting of landmarks such as the river bridges, sculptural elements and fountains incorporate colour and controls which provide for a variety of event and operational modes that respond to the cities place making initiatives.
Paving materials include 3 key basalt/granite flagstones used in combination to support the shared space design approach along the City Promenade, and individually within Victoria Square. Complimentary left bank ‘Park’ finishes includes formal insitu concrete, bound aggregate, lawn and soft landscaping finishes.
A project/site specific suite of street furniture was developed for the City Promenade with a series of modular components able to be configured to support a range of occupation opportunities. Within the river park larger benches – inspired by ‘mohiki’ (reed canoes) – provide clustered seating within existing and new park spaces. A series of sculptural stone seats provides for informal occupation distributed across the precinct.
The design has sensitively integrated and enhanced, through a collaborative approach with Heritage NZ and CCC Heritage teams – a range existing heritage listed/scheduled elements including the Bridge of Remembrance, Hereford Street Bridge, Worchester Street Bridge, Scott, Cook and Queen Victoria statues, Tanner and Bowker Fountains, Kate Shepard Monument.
A new suite of bi-lingual wayfinding elements has been initiated to support wayfinding and legibility across the ARP and the new hierarchy of spaces and destinations.
Place Making and Activation
Flexibility and adaptability has been a key design driver that enables new and revitalized spaces to better respond to and support a wider range of programmed event, place making and activation opportunities. Hard and soft infrastructure has been provided that enables adaption and appropriation and enables new and existing activities such as the ANZAC/Remembrance Celebrations, the Christchurch Lantern Festival and City Promenade celebrations.
Ngā Whāriki Manaaki + Literature trail
Entitled ‘Literary Trail’ and ‘Ngā Whāriki Manaaki’, these interventions are components of the Ōtākaro Avon Arts Trail; conceived as an overlay to the new Terraces and City Promenade. Simply put, this is a design element that seeks to articulate the relationship between people and the river.
Defined by Ngāi Tahu principles; “Kia atawhai ki te iwi, Be kind to your people” Welcoming citizens back in to the recreated city, and; “Unu tai, which waters are you from? the project embraces the river as a way to differentiate place and identity.
The Literary Trail is a family of text pieces, integrated with the stone ground-plane of the promenade, and inscribed on the vertical face of stone ‘bleachers’ set into the riverbank. Equal parts English and Te Reo, the content of the text has been both selected and commissioned to highlight the nuances of the Ōtākaro riverscape.
In alternating frequency with literature pieces, the ‘Ngā Whāriki’ are allegorical weaving mats, translated into durable stone and settled within the promenade at locations intersecting with specific stories, narratives and points of interest. Their position upon the bank varies, as if deposited by the Ōtākaro in flood
Once the notion of the works as a series of site specific ‘intensities’ in the ground plane had been agreed, the design process emerged organically. Ideas of pattern and meaning stemming from master weavers Reihana Parata and Morehu Flutey-Henare, were recorded and digitised by graphic designer Wayne Youle. Each whāriki pattern represents a site specific story based on historical occupation and use of the Ōtākaro Avon River Park corridor.
Effectively a visual language system, the pattern can be read longitudinally as a stacking of layers which read as a sentence. Laterally, the pattern can be extended by modules described as: “hono; meaning to join, connect, splice, and weave to make a longer mat”
At five hono in size, one of the largest whāriki can be found at the threshold of the Bridge of Remembrance. Maumahara responds to the presence of the bridge, depicting marching lines of servicemen and women with a central band of red poppies symbolising distant fields, underpinned by the pātikitiki pattern, a connection to the spiritual realm.
Exploring past, present and future, the whāriki ‘Whakahonotanga’ expresses the strengthening of connections between tangata whenua and manuhiri / visitors.
The integration of Ngā Whāriki Manaaki and Literature elements with the Avon River Precinct ensures the creation of new spaces for all people, imbued with the vision of Ngāi Tahu to set tikanga in stone, whilst exploring the cultural identity of the future.
On the face of the river terraces, stories of the river from different cultural perspectives have become detailed objects, a layer of craftsmanship which dips into the river and enhances the rhythm between installations along its course.
In the context of this project, the integration of Māori values has led to a form of public art which is embedded in the fabric of the built landscape, as opposed to objects placed atop. This in turn, has generated new design concepts, which read both as a cohesive, big picture story sequence, and as a fine grain individual experience.
Design leadership, collaboration and innovation have underpinned the final delivery of this legacy anchor project that was born from The Blueprint Plan – Te Hononga Mokowā and the Christchurch Central Recovery Plan Te Mahere ‘Maraka Ōtautahi of 2012’.
The team of multi-disciplinary experts and organisations that have both invested their time and passion to produce this new river corridor have delivered a framework that now highlights both stories of the city’s recovery and mana whenua values. The outcomes provide recognisable aesthetic and opportunities that set Christchurch on the path to a strong recovery and vibrant future_ – Peter Matthews – Manager Placemaking , Planning and Design – Ōtākaro Ltd
Landscape Architects + Urban Design: LandLAB
Other designers involved in the design of landscape: Boffa Miskell
Project location (For publicly accessible projects please include exact address. For Private gardens place write Country or State): 124 Oxford Terrace, Christchurch Central, Christchurch 8011
Design year: 2014
Year Built: 2018