This project seeks to renovate the Christchurch Arts Centre, which was damaged in the recent earthquakes. My aim is to identify the areas of damage and propose a holistic strategy to heal the prized heritage building and foster future uses. The Arts Centre is one of the most important heritage sites, in Christchurch and a unique example of Gothic Revival architecture. For this reason, the approach taken aims to respect the historical range of buildings. Through my analysis I learned that the damaged caused by the earthquakes was often most severe where separate structures where joined. Given this understanding I proposed a strategy for historical renovation that would remove the structures joining different buildings, and insert new timber structure. From the material research and design investigation I choose the formal driver of traditional timber joints, using their function and expressing it as a role to join the old with the new architecture. The often recurring theme, “Old Meets New”, is explored to express the post-earthquake consensus of the need for preservation as well as bold new urban fabric.
The past programmes gave the Arts Centre its cultural value: local arts and crafts, shops, weekend market, large halls for special venues to name a few. The proposed building will be revived by incorporating new programmes in addition to the previous ones. This is in keeping with the history of the building, as it has continually adapted programmatically over time. The new program will include a transportation hub to remote rebuilding plants and factories, and exhibition and research spaces for the same purpose.
Cynthia Yuan, May 2012
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