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Aussie architects contribute to NZ quake project

PM News
December 20, 2011

Brisbane design firm The Buchan Group has contributed to the Re:START project in New Zealand, a temporary shopping precinct in earthquake damaged Christchurch.

The Buchan Group already has a reputation in the retail sector with the practice’s architectural design of the new shopping precinct in New Zealand’s Cashel Mall, Christchurch. Following the devastating earthquake in February this year, The Buchan Group Brisbane and its Christchurch arm was invited to join the Re:START Group to draw on its retail expertise to help re-establish a temporary retail hub in the Christchurch CBD.

With retail projects such as Robina Town Centre and the Wintergarden redevelopment under its belt, The Buchan Group jumped at the chance to work on such a unique project, Brisbane and New Zealand principal Peter Zillman said.

“We were extremely proud to be approached by Re:START to help get the Christchurch CBD back on its feet, with the re-establishment of a retail precinct not only an economic boost for the city but something that will boost the community’s morale as well.”

The precinct’s design is centred on shipping containers, “making it a portable, modular system that can be used for single or multi-storeys to create an interesting, vibrant retail precinct,” he said.

The idea came from a Christchurch associate, Anton Tritt, who had previously designed a home using shipping containers. Tritt and graduate architect Jason Cheyne developed the retail concept using similar principles.

The temporary retail hub serves the dual purpose of providing public amenities—including cafés, seating and extensive landscaping—and obscuring the earthquake damaged area.

Cashel Mall is the traditional heart of CBD retail in Christchurch but had been closed to the public since the earthquake. Landowners allowed Re:START to use the land without cost and 27 retailers committed to the project, including Ballantynes department store.

From conception to completion, the project took just 27 weeks; Leighs Construction finished the project within eight weeks. All services were connected and fitouts and signage installed in time for the official opening by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key in late October.

Re:START, comprising the Central City Property Owners and Business Group, Civil Defence and the Christchurch City Council, received financial support from the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust and ASB Bank, New Zealand.

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