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A positive way forward

A positive way forward

Architect Craig South suggests a new campaign promoting Christchurch’s spirit of exploration is a good fit with the city’s past and its current culture of innovation.


A positive way forward


Christchurch has come a long way since the earthquakes, but we have yet to attract enough people to the city to get it really humming.
Not everyone will agree on how this is to be done, but ChristchurchNZ has certainly front footed the challenge this month by launching a new promotional campaign. Called The Christchurch Story, it invites newcomers ‘to explore the opportunity’ available in the city.
A promotional video has been released, seeking to embed ‘exploration’ as a defining motif for Ōtautahi/Christchurch throughout its history and into the future.

It is an inclusive approach that acknowledges shared Māori and European heritage, Antarctic connections, the women’s suffrage movement and a legacy of excellence in research and development. As architects, we embrace this emphasis on exploration and welcome the campaign’s implicit support for innovative development. It’s an approach that will likely resonate particularly strongly for those involved in local cutting edge endeavours in engineering and IT. At the very least, ‘exploration’ is a word worth thinking about and acting on in our day to day lives.

Of course, the broader hope is that this campaign will deliver a promotional punch that will plant this city squarely in front of potential investors, visitors, migrants and students. Let’s hope it finds a receptive audience, nationally and globally. If the forecasts are right, we really do have to come up with something bold to draw more people to Christchurch in order to plug a predicted workforce gap of 73,500 by 2031.

How we respond to this campaign, as individuals and within the local business community, will be important in helping to build future prosperity. There is potential to unify the city’s predominantly small and medium-sized businesses behind this one marketing goal, (though no doubt the theme could be communicated in a myriad of different ways). That’s what ChristchurchNZ will be hoping for, at
any rate.

If it is to succeed, Christchurch City Council and ChristchurchNZ will need to keep this campaign at the forefront of their activities. A digital toolkit of photos, videos and information has been produced to help local businesses get on board, but more resourcing will likely be needed to drive the campaign forward in coming months. Growing this city will require more than just a slogan: it will take a long term commitment.

The Christchurch Story is like the city’s calling card: ‘here we are – come and explore with us’. We need to work together to push that invitation out beyond the city. For the ones who answer the call, what will they find? A liveable 21st century city, bursting with new ideas and new architecture, located close to mountains and sea. They will find a forward-thinking city, prepared to try concepts such as shared electric scooters and cycleways. They will find a city simultaneously incubating innovation and fostering community values. I’m sure they will also find a warm welcome.

Christchurch is a great place to work and live. In today’s increasingly connected and crowded world, we are a place worthy of investment. To be known as ‘a city of explorers’ sounds good to me.


Embracing our accessible city

Embracing our accessible city

Architect Craig South takes a look at how Christchurch’s growing cycle and pedestrian infrastructure is poised to transform the city’s future.


Embracing our accessible city


Part of the vision for the Christchurch rebuild was to create a city that would be safer, cleaner and easier to access. Most Cantabrians agree with that in principle, while still commuting to work every day in private motor vehicles that pollute the environment and clog up roads. Maybe it’s time to rethink how we travel in and out of the city. I’m optimistic this will happen as people begin to explore the city’s changing travel network. Christchurch already has many new dedicated cycle lanes and pedestrian walkways linking up different parts of the CBD and connecting with similar developments in the wider city and outlying districts. We may not yet be up there with Copenhagen – the world’s first ‘Bike City’ – but this shift towards sharing our streets more evenly between motorists, cyclists and pedestrians is starting to create a more positive feel for the whole urban environment.

While some of the city’s new cycle ways are still somewhat under-used, they are a resource waiting to be tapped into. All that’s required is a shift in thinking and a willingness to give it a go. Over time, they will grow to be recognised as a real asset for the city not least because fewer cars on the roads will ultimately mean less traffic congestion. Imagine the Riverside farmers’ market once it’s up and running. With most people walking or cycling there on a Saturday rather than driving, it will be an amazing evolution for the central city.

Within our own architectural practice, we are witnessing an interesting shift in commuting habits. Some people have completely switched over to cycling, while others are choosing to drive part way before completing their commute on a bike. Most are thinking about how they travel to and from work and whether it’s time to make some changes. Personally, I’ve been warming to the idea of cycling to work more often.

My cycle route is through Hagley Park and I find that so much more relaxing than the drive. For starters, I have the freedom to think about other things than morning traffic. It takes me 15 minutes to bike to work, compared to 10 minutes by car. When you factor in how long it can take to find a car park, cycling does not add significantly to travel time. Plus, cycling bestows fitness and petrol saving advantages. It’s such an easy, stress free way to build physical activity into the day.

Commuting by bike, bus or foot is definitely more ecologically sustainable than taking the car, unless you happen to own an electric vehicle, of course. Some of our larger civic and commercial organisations are leading the way in supporting all the various green transport alternatives through providing electric car charging stations, secure bike parking and associated shower and locker facilities.


For those who haven’t been on a bike for a while, give it a try one weekend and find out just how easy it is to get around on two-wheels. It really is a fun way to explore the city!


Craig South

Protecting your home investment: Craig South

For those preparing to make one of the biggest investments of their lives, building a new home, analysing and understanding all possible risk is paramount to ensuring a successful outcome. But where do you start? How can you protect yourself from all potential perils when planning for your future nest?


Craig South


Investing in a new home is such a huge undertaking. Many people will only do so once in their lives and are likely to be unfamiliar with the process and therefore open themselves up to unforeseen risk.
As architects, it is in our best interests to help our clients avoid potential pitfalls and to make the design process as pleasurable and productive as possible. As part of our service, we often provide guidance on selecting a trusted builder and how to interpret the contracts. The best builders will already have a strong track record and reliable working relationships with designers and subcontractors.

Who you choose to work with can make such a big difference to the final outcome. Selecting a build and design team with a strong and consistent record of success, and preferably a history of working together, is the ideal for achieving a great home that will fit you and your lifestyle. It requires a robust, collaborative approach that demands clarity on key factors including the brief, the budget and design parameters.
Of course, the financial risks are not the only issues you will need to be mindful of on your journey towards your new dream home. Poor design, inadequate communication, inferior materials and construction techniques can result in a home that falls well short of original expectations, with value negatively affected. The significance of selecting the right design and build team simply cannot be ignored.

Protecting your investment from risk requires a multifaceted approach and we believe the broader solution lies in building a home not just for today but for the future. A well thought out design is intrinsic to that goal, but it also means choosing quality, reputable materials that will endure. For example, cladding that has stood the test of time rather than selecting the latest trendy product on the market. At the same time, it’s about having the discernment to embrace quality innovations where they offer real advantages.

There are so many options when it comes to deciding on your preferred building methodology, ranging from prefabrication to low energy use buildings.
Although good design should never be forfeited, it makes sense to favour a low maintenance, low energy input home. It is part of futureproofing your investment to seek a design and build that will produce a house well above current code on features such as insulation and energy efficiency.
Risk will evaporate if the fundamentals are addressed, achieving sustainable, inspiring results. If value is placed in the design process, you ensure this transpires into the end product, creating a home that reflects the significant investment that it is.



Architect Craig South
In the wake of another building firm collapse, architect Craig South offers insight on safeguarding your home for the future.


Cymon Allfrey Architects

Creating a Central Community: Cymon Allfrey Architects

There is a common misconception that living in the centre of a city, especially residing in an apartment complex, means you forgo the sense of community found in a quiet cul-de-sac. However, this doesn’t have to be the case. And, with a little planning and focus, our central city can become a united, diverse community, equaling even the most tight-knit neighbourhoods.

Cymon Allfrey Architects

While it is exciting to see energy and life back in central Christchurch on a larger scale, with public parks, fruit trees, market stalls and vegetable gardens servicing the wider community in abundance, I can’t help but feel we could be doing more to bring a small-scale neighbourhood quality to city developments. Unfortunately, it seems it has become the norm to simply squeeze a suburban housing typology onto a small city site, rather than considering how the occupants could interact with one another. Preferably, we want to prevent a situation where ‘resident A’ drives straight into their internal-access garage, closes the door and has little contact with those living around them. The importance of getting to know your neighbours seems to have diminished in recent years and I think it is vital we make this a priority again.

In many of the apartment developments Cymon Allfrey Architects have designed, we have purposely built community spaces, ensuring engagement between neighbours. Communal areas are crossed on the way to front doors, with occupants hopefully bumping into and getting to know each other in the process. This not only cultivates a strong sense of belonging within the development, but also adds an extra layer of security for the occupants; knowing neighbours are looking out for them and their home.
Instead of every apartment within a complex having a tiny piece of private outdoor living area, why not combine all those individual areas into one large communal space; space that can be utilised by individuals when entertaining their friends and also by the whole community when socialising together. Let us once again connect and engage with our neighbours, learn from each other and broaden our horizons.

We have much to learn from the flourishing harbour town of Lyttleton. Developing and maintaining a sense of community appears to be high on its priority list and it’s doing it well. Like Christchurch, the town of Lyttleton often holds large-scale events such as the recent Festival of Lights, welcoming not only its own community but people from all over the region. While these events are great for the town, Lyttleton seems to take care of its people and fosters opportunities for the smaller community to thrive. Can we bring this level of engagement back to the scale of the quiet cul-de-sac and help reconnect neighbours within singular complexes in the city?
Living in Central Christchurch doesn’t have to be isolated and detached, with some attention and a subtle mind shift, it too can become a bustling, community-focused neighbourhood.

Cymon Allfrey Architects
Can the quiet cul-de-sac exist in the central city? Architect Craig South believes it can, as he explores what we might be missing in our central city neighbourhood
Enduring Architecture

Enduring Architecture: Functional homes tailored for you now and the future

Architect Craig South
Architect Craig South

Architect Craig South explores the positive impact quality, well-considered design can have on a family’s future.

After recently catching up with clients who are still living in their home 10 years after it was designed, the importance of well-considered design was abundantly clear. When we were designing the Brown House, they were a young family with two small boys and another on the way.

Enduring Architecture

Ten years on, although their lives have changed, their home still works perfectly for them. They may have redecorated to match their current tastes, but the spaces remain the same; save for the toy store! A small room off the kitchen and dining area designed for the kids’ ‘stuff’ – highchairs, games and toys – has now become the children’s study. Although the use has changed, its proximity to the kitchen makes it ideal for its new use as it is easy to keep an eye on homework whilst cooking dinner!
The value an architect brings is immeasurable; we understand that it is the unique features and quirks that makes a house your home. Not necessarily the cedar wall in the stairwell or the double shower in the ensuite, but also how the spaces are organised to best suit the way your family lives. Some require large open plan rooms; others want more compartmentalised areas so, like the Browns, they can host dinner parties in the dining room then retire to a separate sitting area, all whilst the children are watching TV or playing video games in another space; connected but still independent. It is our job, as architects, to take the time to get to know you and your family so we can tailor your home to meet your specific needs now and into the future.

Enduring Architecture

After 10 years, fashions have changed, fads have come and gone but the well-considered design of the Brown House has stood the test of time. As architects, we want nothing more than our designs to last a lifetime. There may be cosmetic changes to ‘keep up with the times’ but the spaces should remain functional and suitable. I was surprised and delighted to hear the Browns still receive plenty of positive comments. “When people visit for the first time, they often cannot believe it’s 10 years old! Our home fits our family so perfectly that people think we have built recently, not a decade ago!”

It was fascinating to discuss how the home has developed with the family and the elements they have added over time as, and when, they could afford them. When we designed their home, a pool wasn’t a necessity, but as something they wanted in the future, it was planned for to be added later.Although the Browns would love to build again, the location, section size and their home’s spaces continue to meet their needs, so there is no real desire to move.The opportunity to revisit one of my earlier designs and discover that it is still as functional and beautiful as it was a decade ago has reminded me just how important our job, as architects, is. We help to make your house your forever





Architect Craig South

A new approach to an old problem: architect Craig South explores innovative thinking about living in the CBD

Architect Craig South
Architect Craig South

Architect Craig South explores an alternative to the norm when it comes to central city living.

Architecture is typically viewed as a whole – the exterior lines, the internal layout and the fit-out. And while it is all of that, if we were to strip it back to a considered shell, we have what is known as Naked Architecture – a term being used overseas to describe buildings being designed and built with no preconceived ideas around their internal layout and use; buildings that the end-user is able to individually tailor to suit their needs.
This is not to say that the cornerstones of architecture are ignored. The roles of the developer and the architect are still vital throughout the process. Each unit or apartment needs to be the result of considered design; crafted for its individual location and placement within the overall structure in order for the building to be a success. The developer and architect are equally important during the fit-out stage, ensuring the end result is a well thought out, bespoke home.
By offering buyers this ability to buy ‘shell space’ and fit it out to suit their personal needs, we are creating end-user buy-in in terms of what they are wanting, giving buyers the opportunity to stake a claim and invest, beyond financially, into their purchase.
Where someone might spend more on floor tiles and fittings, another occupant will spend less. One may have an ‘entertainers’ kitchen and one large living area, while another will have multiple living spaces and sleeping options to suit their family – allowing everyone to create a home that falls within their budget while meeting their personal needs.

Architect Craig South

Having been seeking an inner city living option for my family, it has become apparent that finding the perfect solution is hard. Our decision to move into the inner city has been driven by the high level of amenity and the incredible opportunity Hagley Park offers as a borrowed landscape, ensuring that no matter where we move in this central neighbourhood and what size our floor plan, we have this vast green space on our doorstep. This ensures we won’t be compromising on the Kiwi backyard, rather opening up the opportunities that come with living within close proximity to such an under-utilised offering.
Personally, we would jump at the chance to convert a ‘shell’ into spaces that reflect our family’s needs both now and into the future. And what is exciting is that someone else could create something completely different in the adjacent space. This is a concept that allows for individualisation of style, budget and layout, creating a cross section and diversification of people living in our city.

Architect Craig SouthThis type of development is not an unknown concept in New Zealand, or even Christchurch. We commonly adopt it in the design and build of commercial buildings, so the question is, why not do it for personal living spaces?
We tend to look to Europe for passive design learnings and other design concepts, so why not look to them for inspiration to encourage families into our inner city?
With our central city neighbourhood bursting with amenities, yet slow to attract residential development post-earthquake, it is time to think beyond ordinary and offer a new and unique way to encourage people back.