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Te Papa Ōtākaro Avon River Park + City Promenade_

LandLAB provided urban design leadership for the $100m Avon River Precinct project - the signature project for the Christchurch rebuild. The ARP Terraces Precinct delivers transformational change to Christchurch’s urban morphology by redefining its city-edge riverfront as a continuous 2km pedestrian priority ‘shared use’ promenade within its iconic river-park corridor.

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 thicken the edge of the city to catalyse new opportunities for access and occupation. LandLAB led the design for the Terraces river edge precinct, which transforms Oxford Terrace from a conventional street into a shared-use zone. Prioritising pedestrian access, occupation and a new tram circuit.

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’

Sculptural Structures 

The terraces are constructed of a sculptural series of stone-clad seats and bleachers that provide access and occupation of the riverbank, where the geometries of the city (grid) and river (organic) overlap. The locations of these interventions enable a reciprocal relationship between the riverbanks 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. 

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 rain gardens, 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 ‘rain garden’ 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 newly built form responses.

Location_ Christchurch, New Zealand
Client_ Otakaro Ltd
Date_ 2013-2018
Budget_ $17m
Team_ OPUS + EOS Ecology + E3BW