CERA, Ngai Tahu, CCC call for design input

A compeition is under way for design of an urban village in Christchurch.

Architects and developers are being invited to provide designs for a central Christchurch “urban village” with little idea of the costs involved.

The new urban village design competition is a proposed joint venture by Christchurch City Council, the Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment, Ngāi Tahu and the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority for the corner of Madras and Gloucester streets, about two blocks east of Cathedral Square.

“Competition entrants will design and build a new medium-density urban residential complex that provides a variety of housing options and lifestyle choices based on the key principles of sustainability, affordability, innovation and a strong sense of community,” mayor Bob Parker says in a prepared statement.

After the competition, the second stage of the venture will involve CERA’s revelations of land costs it is negotiating with landowners against the threat of its compulsory acquisition powers.

In the meantime, competitors are told that “land values should be assumed as the registered land value. The actual land value will be introduced in stage two of the competition to provide for a full financial picture and potential support regarding the development”.

CERA is also calling for expressions of interest for another anchor project – a new convention centre precinct. Again, no definite costings are provided.

When Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee addressed the Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce last week he highlighted how CERA was seeking innovative funding as well as design input from potential development partners.

“We’ve opened up a blank canvas for a single company or consortiums to let us know how they might deliver all of the required components, or some elements that play to their particular strengths,” Mr Brownlee says.

The convention centre precinct’s development will be led jointly by CERA, Christchurch City Council, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and property developer Ngai Tahu.

Meanwhile, the urban village design calls for “an exemplar residential development of no less than 50 dwellings on the 10,194sq m (formerly commercial) site”.

“As a guide, the following could be considered in the design: the target mix of living arrangements – singles, couples, families, young and old; tenure or ownership mix; price range for the dwellings and the viability of the overall development; private and shared outdoor living spaces, amenities and services; privacy, noise control and light pollution between dwellings and from the street; encouragement of cycling, walking and the use of public transport; vehicle parking for residents, visitors or car share schemes; connections with and enhancement of the surrounding neighbourhood... ”

The full list of requirements is available on the city council and CERA websites.

However, the biggest challenge not addressed by the design competition is how marketing would be pitched at buyers in Christchurch who have proved slow to invest in high density accommodation except around Hagley Park and the Avon in the northwest quadrant of the central city.