Open Christchurch 2021

As an avid appreciator of Christchurch architecture, I am VERY excited about Open Christchurch:

With 46 open buildings, two guided central city walks and dozens of special activities (from children’s workshops to performance as well as expert talks and tours), Open Christchurch 2021 is a celebration of our architecture. Discover new spaces or get up close to buildings you love, for free.

My first tip - check the tours that require booking and if any of them take your fancy, get on to it right away. I've just made some bookings, and some tours are already fully booked. Then you can start to plan your weekend of tours around those booked tours. I've also booked in for tours of the Madras Street townhouses, the Peterborough housing co-operative, and the Chen Anselmi units.

What's on at Tūranga

PKN-CHCH-42 Pecka Kucha Night Christchurch Friday 9 May 6pm to 9pm

PechaKucha Night Christchurch Vol.24 is in collaboration with Open Christchurch, a new and exciting architecture festival that celebrates the most exceptional architecture in Ōtautahi Christchurch. The underlying argument is 'good design improves lives' and that's why our theme for Vol.42 is Architecture Matters. We're inviting everyday humans to speak about why they think good architecture and design matters in their lives in the 20x20 format.
THEME: Architecture Matters
WHEN: Friday 7 May, 6-9pm
WHERE: TSB Space, Tūranga, Level 1 (60 Cathedral Square)
$18+BF. Cash bar available
Find out more.

Behind-the-scenes tours Saturday 15 May (fully booked)

Get a glimpse of Tūranga that people don’t usually get to see. Enjoy a free, guided, behind-the-scenes tour with librarians who work in Tūranga. Free, but bookings are required so book your spot on one of these times: 11am to 11.45am or 3pm to 3.45pm.

Expert tours Saturday 15 May, 1pm and 2pm

Free expert tours - turn up on the day, first in, first served. Jama Borzouie, Senior Structural Engineer, Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers will show you around. Lewis Bradford Consulting Engineers carried out the structural engineering on this complex and multi-award winning project.Tūranga has been designed incorporating modern low-damage technology to sustain minimal structural damage during a large earthquake. During this tour, you will see the new technologies that were applied in the structural design of this building (rocking walls, dampers and other types of energy dissipators). The design project engineer will describe how these elements work together and what special considerations were followed.

Cardboard city building with Annabel Cropper and Yvonne Hall Saturday 15 May, 1.30pm to 4pm

Gold coin donation on arrival. Bookings required – book your spot. Let’s build a city! Let’s see what kind of cardboard city we can make together. Come and make a house or building using only cardboard, glue and a black pen! You can stack them on top of each other or join them to a friend’s creations and start to make a city! This workshop is inspired by the artwork of artists Alfredo and Isabel Aquilizan who use their work to think about the challenges of moving to a new home or to an unfamiliar country.Suitable for 8-12-year-olds. Session limited to 20 people.

Guided walk: Ngāi Tahu Arts, Architecture, and Values Sunday 16 May 1pm to 3pm

BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL – $4 + booking fees. Limited numbers. Purchase tickets here. Details will be emailed to you closer to the time. With Joseph Hullen (Ngāi Tūāhuriri/Ngāti Hinematua)
Nau mai, haere mai. On this walk join Joseph Hullen (NgāiTūāhuriri/Ngāti Hinematua), who has spent a lifetime lifetime gathering traditional kai and hearing stories about his hapū, as he shares the values, stories and identity of Ngāi Tahu as told through the recent artworks integrated into the central city’s public spaces and buildings. From the shaping of Tūranga’s architecture to the bold kakahu (cloak) adorning the Justice & Emergency Precinct, discover the ways in which Ōtautahi reflects Ngāi Tahu identity and narratives through art, landscape and architecture.

Find out more about Tūranga's architecture and the artworks and cultural narrative at its heart.

My Picks - A Town Tour

Decisions! Decisions! Here are some of the tours I want to get on. I am focusing on what I can get to waddling around town, but there are heaps of excellent places to see further afield (Lyttelton, Rāpaki, University of Canterbury etc).

Oxford Terrace Baptist - Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 May, 9am to 4pm (walk up)

Guided 30 minute tours on Saturday at 9 & 10am; 1 & 2pm.  Sunday: 30 minute tour starting at 9am; traditional church service 9.30am; contemporary church service 11am; international church service 2pm.

ARCHITECT: Andrew Barrie Lab, 2017
The church as a village is the driving concept behind this complex yet welcoming building, which houses offices, a cafe,a public venue for hire and spaces for music and worship. A controlled palette of colours and materials runs through the structure, tying these elements together and creating a calm, refined atmosphere.  Bare concrete block, warm timber and polished concrete floors provide contrast and richness to the exemplary finishing and details of a beautifully constructed building

Nurses' Memorial Chapel - Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 May, 10am to 4pm (walk up)

I haven't visited this famous spot before, so it's on my hit list.

Join architectural historian Ian Lochhead for a walk through this Arts & Crafts treasure – New Zealand’s first purpose built hospital chapel and the only memorial chapel to celebrate nurses who died in any conflict and the 1918 Influenza epidemic. Many works of high-quality craftmanship lie within: stained glass windows by acclaimed artist Veronica Whall and an elaborately carved altar and oak panel by Frederick Gurnsey and Jake Vivian. Ian will share  the chapel’s stories and highlights on this free tour.

Nurses' Memorial Chapel, Christchurch Hospital, Riccarton Avenue, Christchurch
Nurses' Memorial Chapel, Christchurch Hospital, Riccarton Avenue, Christchurch [ca. 1930]. CCL-KPCD13-0036

St Michael and All Angels Saturday 15 May 10am to 5pm (walk up)

I see the words "Gothic Revival" and have a wee flutter. I also stan stained glass windows. And this church is in the heart of the town.
The architects are the rather splendidly named William Fitzjohn Crisp, and Frederick Strouts.

The first church to be built on the plains by the Anglican settlers, St Michael and All Angels’ congregation soon outgrew the original building and was replaced by Crisp’s fashionable Gothic Revival structure – the preferred ecclesiastical style of the time. Crisp soon fell out with the clients and Strouts, the designer for the who’s who of Christchurch, picked up the slack. The resulting combination of dark wood and English stained-glass windows makes for a rich and contemplative atmosphere.

St Michael's Church bell-tower, Oxford Terrace. 1976.
St Michael's Church bell-tower, Oxford Terrace. 1976. Three children watching the bell-tower of St Michael's and All Angels Anglican Church being moved from Oxford Terrace and into Lichfield Street due to road widening works taking place on Oxford Terrace. Christchurch Star archive. In copyright. CCL-StarP-00650A

65 Cambridge Terrace Saturday 15 May 10am to 4pm (walk up, tours)

This modern stunner was designed Warren & Mahoney, 1962 & 1979:

Angular, articulated and artful, 65 Cambridge Terrace was designed in 1962 as both an office for Warren & Mahoney and a residence for Sir Miles Warren. Expanding on the materials and techniques employed in his earlier designs, the building shows us what it is made of – concrete beams and blocks, meranti timber – and revels in its geometric design. The timber-framed 45 degree half-gables jutt out of the flat roof and sit atop the two double-height boxes that make up the main building, which, in addition to the adjacent flat that houses a long, narrow gallery, opens out into a sumptuous garden and reflection pool, providing respite in the middle of the city.

65 Cambridge Terrace. 1995.
65 Cambridge Terrace. 1995. Office and residence designed by Warren and Mahoney at 65 Cambridge Terrace. Christchurch Star archive. In copyright. CCL-StarP-05236A

Architecture resources

Ahead of Open Christchurch, we've freshened up our page highlighting all things architecture.


More about Open Christchurch

Run by Te Pūtahi Centre for Architecture and City Making, Open Christchurch celebrates Christchurch’s most exceptional architecture by opening over 40 buildings to the public for free on 15 & 16 May. It offers people the opportunity to connect with their city by discovering new spaces or getting up close to the buildings they love.