Central Christchurch: A Unique Neighbourhood- Cambridge Terrace Home


One of the most remarkable things about this project is that it is a generous home built on a site many of our clients would have thought of for development. In fact, only a couple of streets over, we designed a 5 town-house development on a site of similar size.

Although, historically, the street and those surrounding it would have housed relatively sizeable homes for influential families. Close to the amenities of the central city, this was considered a desirable residential area. Travelling two or three blocks away from the city center and the sites would have been reserved for workers quarters, with higher density housing on each site.  However, in more recent years, these residential sites have been reformed into multi-unit and multi-use developments.

The exterior of the home was inspired by that city environment, drawing from architectural styles familiar in Christchurch; the look of the home is robust and fits the hard and harsh city setting. Whilst the geometry of the building is familiar, it is still contemporary modernist.

There is a social side to creating a livable environment inside a city setting. Whilst there is still a need for privacy, Architect Cymon Allfrey did not want the home to turn its back to the street. He still wanted passersby to see the lights on, observe a sense of living. Finding the balance between privacy and social responsibility. There is also a need to be conscious of the perception of an ‘underbelly’ of the city, it is vital that a home in the city does not make the occupants feel vulnerable. The use of height and the variation of the terraces, in conjunction with carefully considered window placement, creates a private environment without compromising the view. It is also important, from an urban design perspective, that surveillance of the street can be achieved inside the home, that there are no dark corners to lurk in unseen.

As part of the NZIA judging process; one of the many awards this home has attained, judges visit the candidate’s homes to assess and critic the architecture and the way the home is occupied. During this visit, there was one aspect of the home that pleasantly surprised the judges. Our clients were particularly keen for the judges to finish their visit quickly as they had a dinner reservation at a new restaurant that had recently opened nearby. The judges thought this clearly showed how the occupants engaged with their community and all the amenities on their doorstep and deemed it appropriate use of the central city home.

The next project in our series reveals a unique way to occupy the central city. A housing co-operative is a novel idea for Christchurch but examples around the world show this model can be very successful.

Read our next blog to learn about this fascinating new project.

Published on Monday, December 18th, 2017