The striking, square-framed, Cubist-style building replaced two buildings that needed to be demolished after the 2011 Canterbury earthquake. It was the first major development to be approved under new regulations established by the Christchurch Central City Development Unit as a result of the natural disaster. It was also one of the first new office buildings to be rebuilt, leading the revitalisation of Christchurch.
Understandably, the owners wanted the new building to convey a sense of extreme solidity, which the design team achieved by contrasting the typical glazed curtain wall design of high-rise office buildings with a more solid-looking structure. The building design features 4.4m recesses in its upper levels, which create light wells and break up the structure of the building.
Michael Doig says the recesses also perform a structural function, breaking up the eastern elevation. “This enables the building to move more easily in the event of an earthquake,” he says. “As the height of the building increases, there is a need for greater flexibility and ductility.”
At the first-floor level, the composite aluminium cladding is perforated to ventilate the car parking facilities behind. The lighter look of the perforated cladding contrasts the substantial look of the box forms above.
This is a highly efficient, highly engineered building with a concrete and steel-framed structure and a very robust CFA pile ground improvement system. This brings strength to the upper layer of soil that can be prone to liquefaction. The building foundations are not physically connected to the piles, which are shallow and numerous. These small piles are topped with a layer of compacted aggregate, and a concrete slab. In the event of an earthquake there is no single point of weakness.
This project was recognised with:
Property Council New Zealand 2015, Merit: Hays Commercial Office Property Award