OLD STYLE, MODERN TWIST: Christchurch architectural graduate and structural engineer James Carr.
Cantabrians fed up with "tiltslab shoebox" buildings have embraced a young architect's neo-Gothic designs for central Christchurch.
The Press put some of James Carr's imaginative designs on its front page and website yesterday, triggering a large and mostly positive response.
Carr, a young structural engineer and architecture graduate, designed a complex of spires, arches and turrets but with the latest seismic technology.
The drawings were of shops, galleries and apartments around a central courtyard and were for an international competition.
While they are intended for the Triangle Centre site in the City Mall, landlord Michael Ogilvy-Lees has not yet decided the future of the property. Carr is also creating designs for other parts of the central city.
Press.co.nz readers variously described the plans as "awesome", "fantastic", and "beautiful". "Bravo, James!" said one, "Finally! Someone with a design other than a concrete and glass box!" said another.
However, some warned against architecture which might be too nostalgic.
Three quarters of those answering the online poll said Carr's design would help save the city from "hideous concrete boxes", while the rest thought it was "over the top."
Heritage advocate and art history associate professor Ian Lochhead said the designs were "a break-away from a modernist straightjacket".
"James has pushed the envelope in quite a challenging way for architects."
Christchurch City councillor Tim Carter said it was "great to have designs that generated discussion on the front page of the paper".
"We ultimately want Christchurch to have its own unique architectural style, and it's good to have these discussions about what the community wants the city to look like," Carter said.
Educator Rae Willis said established architects were getting all the work, but up-and-coming architects could take a step back and offer fresher ideas.
"Maybe we could integrate the best of the old and the new, and have our own Canterbury style."