Christchurch’s proud tradition of public architecture is clear in one of the city’s favourite buildings – the Christchurch Town Hall. The city’s ‘public living room’ for hosting celebrations, concerts and civic events, the Town Hall reopened triumphantly this year after a successful campaign for its restoration.
Through the tortuous beginnings of the original project to the battle to save the complex after the earthquakes of 2010-11, a new book, published by Canterbury University Press, captures an intimate story of the Town Hall. It is fitting that former Associate Professor of Art History at UC Dr Ian Lochhead edited The Christchurch Town Hall 1965–2019: A dream renewed, since he was an early advocate of repairing and restoring the building, expressing his views in a piece titled ‘Let our public living room live again’ published in The Press on 20 March 2012.
When the facility opened to much fanfare and civic interest in 1972, the auditorium in particular was unlike anything seen in New Zealand before, Dr Lochhead explains. While Sir Miles Warren led the creative architectural team (establishing the reputation of Warren & Mahoney nationally), it was Sir Harold Marshall who was responsible for the world-class acoustics that changed the way concert halls around the world were designed from that point on.
The quality of Marshall’s acoustic design attracted performers of the calibre of Leonard Bernstein, Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Carlos Santana and, just last month, renowned cellist YoYo Ma, and saw Christchurch recognised alongside the great concert halls of Vienna, Boston and Lucerne. The Philharmonie de Paris, which opened in 2015, took its design cues from the Christchurch Town Hall, to the extent that the French employed Marshall Day Acoustics, the practice established by Harold Marshall in 1981.
Details such as this makes the book a treat for history lovers, architecture buffs and conservation advocates alike. The compelling story of the incredibly challenging restoration is recounted in chapters by Peter Marshall and John Hare and captured in photos by former UC photographer Duncan Shaw-Brown and by Olivia Spencer-Bower.
UC returned to the Town Hall for its graduation ceremonies this year, one of many key Christchurch organisations to again use this much-loved space for their most important celebrations.
The Christchurch Town Hall 1965–2019: A dream renewed, edited by Dr Ian Lochhead, is available now in hardback edition (248pp, colour and B/W illustrations), RRP $59.99, ISBN: 978-1-98-850310-3.
Editor Ian Lochhead taught Art History at the University of Canterbury from 1981 to 2014. He has written extensively on the history of New Zealand architecture from the colonial period to the Christchurch School. His book, A Dream of Spires: Benjamin Mountfort and the Gothic Revival, was published by CUP in 1999. He was an early advocate for the restoration of the Christchurch Town Hall following the 2011 Canterbury earthquakes; his article ‘Let our public living room live again’, was published in The Press on 20 March 2012. The Society of Architectural Historians of Australia and New Zealand made him a life member in 2013.
Dr Lochhead Image: Duncan Shaw Brown
Sir Harold Marshall
Sir Miles Warren
The Next Heritage Conversation will be a presentation on Heritage Project Management by Richie Moyle, Programme Manager- CCC Heritage Capital Delivery.
The event will be held on Wednesday 4th December.(2019)
Contact Historic Places Canterbury for the details: firstname.lastname@example.org
"....A proposal to move the Christchurch war memorial has been opposed by one of the largest Returned Services Association (RSA) groups in the city.
The Papanui RSA voted to oppose a plan to shift the Citizens War Memorial from Cathedral Square to Cranmer Square because the move would lower its "aesthetic, cultural and spiritual value". ...
"... Christchurch Civic Trust deputy chair Ross Gray, who is leading a campaign against the move, said the Papanui RSA vote was significant.
"The Papanui RSA is considerably larger than the Christchurch RSA," he said.
"We oppose this notion that you can move an important heritage item from Cathedral Square and stick it in another iconic and important space like Cranmer Square." ..
Ross Gray is also Deputy Chair of Historic Places Canterbury.
Historic Places Canterbury has data that backs strong public arguments for Heritage Retention
The following article appeared in the HPA Oculus September 2019 Newsletter.
Historic Places Canterbury (HPC) has found that only just one quarter of one percent of the total number of Christchurch Buildings have heritage protection.
Historic Places Canterbury using the Christchurch City Council data has found that scheduled Heritage Buildings (under the District Plan) make up a risible and paltry 00.25% of the total number of Christchurch Buildings.
In the Christchurch Central Business District we found the Heritage Buildings make up just 5.5% of the total number of buildings. (This percentage will drop significantly as new buildings are built on the empty sites.)
HPC considers that having such statistics is a great public talking point in any Public Debate about Built Heritage.
Firstly, we can authoritatively refute any claims, made or implied, that there are too many heritage buildings being protected. It would be hard to argue 00.25% is anything but a very small number.
Secondly, we can argue that as we have so few protected Heritage Buildings, authorities and developers should be protecting them as they are quantifiably rare in number. Taking as an example the CBD with 5.5% being Heritage Buildings means that 94% of the Buildings have no protection and can be developed.
Thirdly, we can argue that as the number and percentage is so low and are qualitatively rare, the Christchurch City Council and Heritage New Zealand should be vigorously defending any attempts to demolish protected Built Heritage.
Fourthly, as our Built Heritage is so scarce, the Christchurch City Council (and HNZ) should be making a real effort to add suitable Heritage Buildings to the District Plan for protection HPC respectfully suggests that Historic Places Aotearoa's Membership Organisations conduct a similar exercise.
Such statistics (or raw numbers) can be used to rebut the Developers’ public arguments against protecting a heritage building as it shows there is often a local abundance of unprotected buildings they can focus on and leave the precious few Heritage Buildings alone.
In addition using a specific local statistic provides a strong argument as to why local councils (and Heritage New Zealand) should be working harder to protect and save unequalled local heritage at hearings etc and by increasing the number of buildings being scheduled/listed.
If local statistics were collated, these local percentages provide great arguments for HPA and its Membership Organisations to lobby MPs and Councillors. Heritage Buildings are quantifiably rare treasures so they should have more protection and we should not be complacent in increasing the number which are protected.
It is also worth noting, it appears, based on the Christchurch numbers, that despite being a very small percentage of the total number of Buildings, Listed Heritage has a (huge) disproportionate influence on our Tourism marketing and City/Town/District's marketing identity and branding.
The following are the raw numbers for Christchurch:Christchurch has scheduled 573 Heritage Buildings from a total of 22,3927 Christchurch Buildings in Total (within its TLA boundary) i.e. 0.25%
The Christchurch CBD has 127 Scheduled Heritage Buildings.The Christchurch CBB has in total 2,579 Buildings ie only 5.5% are protected.
The Historic Places Canterbury AGM is to be held:
5.00pm Thursday 5th September at Avebury House.
9 Eveleyn Couzins Ave, Richmond, Christchurch 8013
Historic Places Canterbury Media Release:
Bishop’s decision to demolish the Basilica, the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch-
Mark Gerrard Chair of Historic Places Canterbury:
“Historic Places Canterbury is very disappointed to hear that Bishop Martin has chosen to demolish one of our finest neo-Classical Buildings.”
“The Basilica is one of New Zealand’s most iconic and beautiful neo-classical buildings.”
“George Bernard Shaw preferred the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch to our Christ Church Cathedral.”
“Historic Places Canterbury is surprised the Bishop appears to have lost faith in the cost of restoration of this unique beautiful heritage building”
“The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch has for many generations been a beacon of faith and inspiration. Today we are left with the impression that cost and location are more important considerations.”
"Christchurch has lost many special heritage buildings under the CERA Section 38. CERA’s legacy still lives as it is being used to demolish a heritage building and bypass the RMA. "
Chair Historic Places Canterbury
"Fight looming for Catholic church over decision to demolish Christchurch's Catholic cathedral" The Press Online
"Heritage advocates are vowing to fight a decision to demolish Christchurch's historic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. ..."
" ... The decision has upset heritage advocate Anna Crighton, who said there was outrage in the community and she was ready to fight for the building's survival. ..."
" ...Her stance was supported by Historic Places Canterbury.
Chairman Mark Gerrard said the organisation would be exploring all means to fight the proposed demolition.
"Historic Places Canterbury is surprised the bishop appears to have lost faith in the cost of restoration of this unique beautiful heritage building."
The cathedral had been a beacon of faith and inspiration for many generations, he said.
"Today we are left with the impression that cost and location are more important considerations." ...
"Cash donated to Christchurch Catholics not ring-fenced for heritage church restoration" The Press online article.
Historic Places Canterbury Public Forum Submission to
The Social, Community Development and Housing Committee
Christchurch City Council
31 July 2019
Thank You for hearing our Public Forum Submission
Historic Places Canterbury (HPC) wishes to request that the CCC set up what we are provisionally calling a "Heritage Buildings and Sites Reference Group”.
HPC considers a Reference group with appropriately qualified individuals would be useful for the CCC Staff and Councillors wishing to seek advice from those with heritage expertise.
It could be useful for a number of roles such as:
- Advising on the Provincial Council Buildings (replacing its defunct(?) Advisory Group),
- Review of Policies for District Plan Statements of Significance etc.
- Peer reviewing the work done for the District Plan,
- Heritage Buildings under EOI. The Reference Group would be useful for providing feedback/comment on the development plans where seeking public comment is precluded under the Tendering Process.
- Provide independent advice to the Councillors
- Provide commentary where a full Engagement or Consultation is not practical or where expert advice is sought.
HPC wishes to nominate Dr Ian Lochhead, Dr Anna Crighton, Dr Lynne Lochhead, Katharine Watson and a Ngai Tahu representative as members of the Heritage Buildings and Sites Reference Group.
Forming such a Group would be an implementation of the much lauded CCC Heritage Strategy where there is recognition of the importance of the heritage expertise held in the community.
HPC notes the success of the Victoria Square Reference Group where the Plan was refined after Consultation and the feedback/comment was sought on the Design decisions etc in the restoration / construction.
(The CCC you will recall recommended the Group be kept so it could have a role in the restoration work.)
Chair Historic Places Canterbury
"Christchurch's Antonio Hall ravaged by fire as heritage fans fear 'demolition by neglect' " The Press Online
" ... Ross Gray, deputy chairman of Christchurch Civic Trust and Historic Places Canterbury, said the mansion's potential destruction was "very sad to see". ...
" The building had a lot of potential as a significant asset for the city. All credit to the local neighbours for the work they have done to try and preserve it." ...