photos by Christchurch City Council
10 Beautifully Renovated Christchurch Venues
by Raashka Mannie | 03 Mar 2020
Christchurch comes to be known as a restorative city, full of life and change. In the wake of the earthquake of 2011, they’ve pulled together in incredible fashion to begin the steps of revamping their city. In the years since the earthquake, they have undergone dramatic and refreshing changes - and this is only the beginning. Although it’s predicted that the full rebuild of Christchurch can take up to 20 years, it has not stopped a host of venues from making positive and exciting adjustments to their own structures now. Christchurch venues across the board have taken the opportunity to reimagine themselves, with help from the community, leaving us spoilt for choice. Here are 10 renovated Christchurch venues that have outdone themselves. If you'd like to see other venues in Christchurch, check out our comprehensive guide here.
Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu
Image by Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu
With flowing glass and smooth metal, Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu is one of Christchurch’s most celebrated buildings and venues. The pure contemporary beauty of it all is highlighted further by the Avon River. The design began in 1998 with Buchan Group leading the way, offering up a spectacular glazed façade. In 2011, the gallery became the Emergency Operating Centre for the earthquake recovery. Afterwards, it closed until 2015 due to extensive damages. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu is now over 100% compliant with the new building code, and one of the safest and most earthquake-resilient art galleries in the world. This venue is home to 9 exhibition areas, a reference library, auditorium, education workrooms, shops, extensive collection storage and a restaurant. The spaces are arranged across 2 floors, connected by a dramatic marble staircase rising from the NZI foyer. Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu can host up to 500 guests.
Image by New Zealand Geographic
Most significant of all, perhaps, is the Traditional/Cardboard Cathedral. Japanese architect Shigeru Ban received the prestigious Pritzker Prize for the design of this building (remaining the only building in New Zealand to have done so). This Christchurch venue now serves as a landmark in the city and is the only cathedral in the world that has been sustainably constructed, made from cardboard tubes, steel shipping containers and the Cathedral’s original stained glass Rose windows. It was designed as a symbol of Christchurch’s fortitude and innovation in light of harrowing times and is sure to give your event an atmosphere filled with the city’s charm. In 2012, Lonely Planet listed Christchurch as one of the top travel destinations in the world, with the Traditional/Cardboard Cathedral as one of the reasons. The space caters for up to 700 guests and has 2 areas (the main hall and foyer) to choose from, combining if needs be.
Isaac Theatre Royal
Image by Best Awards
Classic meets modern at Isaac Theatre Royal, situated in the centre of Christchurch and standing as a landmark venue throughout the years. After sustaining considerable damage in 2011, this Christchurch venue went through a careful rebuild. Whilst the Back of House and Stage House, constructed recently in 2004 and 2005, could be repaired, he 1908 auditorium and 1928 foyer spaces were not so fortunate. The total collapse of the theatre was prevented by the structural earthquake strengthening carried out in 1999 and 2000, allowing for the salvage of key heritage items and stabilisation of the Edwardian façade before deconstruction. The new design has achieved 100% of new earthquake building code, all whilst retaining Isaac Theatre Royal’s “Grand Old Lady” status, filled with history, charm and style. The rebuild, in total, cost over $40 million, with the theatre reopening in 2014. Isaac Theatre Royal is a remarkable and beloved venue that can cater for up to 1290 guests, with 5 spaces to choose from and state-of-the-art equipment on deck.
Air Force Museum of New Zealand
Image by Vbase
The national museum for the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and New Zealand military aviation is, expectedly, filled with history and the pride of New Zealand. Established in 1987, the museum has since undergone several reconstructions and relocations all over the RNZAF Base Wigram. Currently, the venue sits on 37 hectares of land and spans 6 buildings, all after several million was spent on extensions and remodelling. In 2013 alone, the extension of the Air Force Museum of New Zealand cost an estimated $16 million and was the first major building project since the museum’s opening. As a venue, situated just 15 minutes from the airport, they can host up to 1000 delegates, with 7 spaces to choose from: Thérèse Angelo Wing, Aircraft Hall, Atrium, Brevet Lounge, Donaldson Room, Theatre and Morrison Room. The museum is an important facet of New Zealand’s history and does well to showcase Christchurch’s endeavouring spirit.
Christchurch Town Hall
Image by Christchurch City Council
Originally designed by Sir Miles Warren and Maurice Mahoney, the Christchurch Town Hall has been an all-important piece of Christchurch since 1972. After the earthquakes, the remodel began with certain goals in mind, from additions to facilities to reworking of structural integrity. Over the years, the restoration of the Christchurch Town Hall has ensured the venue is now up to 100% of New Building Standards. It also includes the construction of a purpose-built facility for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO), which has given them a permanent home in the complex for the first time. Featuring white marble, dark timber and wine red fabrics, this Christchurch venue retains its historic appeal and design, alongside the mural Rainbow Pieces by New Zealand artist Pat Hanly (originally commissioned by Miles Warren in 1971). Christchurch Town Hall can accommodate a maximum of 2250 guests and has 6 spaces to choose from, making it one of the city’s larger venues.
The Arts Centre
Image by Christchurch Convention Bureau
The Arts Centre features a total of 23 buildings on-site, 21 of which are listed by Heritage New Zealand as Historic Place Category 1. This Christchurch venue is filled with history and a unique air to it that has been carefully preserved throughout the renovations following the earthquake. These Gothic Revival buildings have been a part of Christchurch since 1877 and were once part of Canterbury College. Over the years, each building has been reopened one by one as they have been restored, starting with the Clock Tower and several others, before progressing to the Classics Building in 2017, the School of Art and West Lecture in 2018, and 3 more scheduled for 2019. The Arts Centre is a venue that brings with it all of Christchurch’s wealth of history and is a popular function space for that reason. The Arts Centre, able to host up to 250 guests, currently has 6 available spaces at which to host an event: the Great Hall, Community Meeting Room, Maker Workshop, Classics Boardroom and Conservatory, and Rutherford's Den Lecture Theatre (which is only available after 5 PM).
Image by Stuff
A world-class venue designed for the celebration of the music and art life in Canterbury, The Piano is a space that seeks to promote and empower through its state-of-the-art facilities and equipment. Founded in 1991, The Piano has been around for a while with a variety of different names, but with, essentially, the same purpose. Resorted for the first time in 1991, The Piano’s second remodel happened much, much later in 2015, following a complete shutdown due to the earthquake. The building was dubbed ‘The Piano’ to reflect the modern curves and sleek appearance that it adopted, all inspired by grand pianos themselves. The venue officially reopened in September 2016 and has continued its shining record of being a home for the passionately creative. This Christchurch venue is equipped with a commercial kitchen, space for over 300 guests and 4 separate spaces to host any function you please. Merely 20 minutes from the airport, The Piano is one of Christchurch’s favourite venues, bringing with it a love of arts that lends any event a certain elegance.
Heritage Hotel Christchurch
Image by Stuff
This opulent hotel in Christchurch has won the World Luxury Hotel 2016 and 2017 awards in the Historical Hotel category for the Australasia and Oceania region - and with good reason. Heritage Hotel Christchurch is based in an Italian High Renaissance Palazzo style building, lovingly restored to reflect its original charm, but with a distinct edge of modern luxury. The building was originally designed in 1909 and is listed as a category 1 building on the Historic Places Trust Register. It was once known as the Old Government Building, opened in 1913 and converted into a hotel in 1995 to strengthen and converse the structure. Heritage Hotel Christchurch offers fully equipped conference facilities, with useful perks such as complimentary WiFi throughout your stay/conference. They also feature an indoor heated pool, gym, spa and sauna for your consideration, as well as on-site accommodation.
Image by NZ Commercial Project Awards
Rose Chapel is an early English Gothic Revival, ecclesiastical-style heritage building. The structure itself has several gorgeous examples of 20th century New Zealand and British craftsmanship, most significant of which are their stained glass windows. This Christchurch venue has been classified as a category 2 building by Heritage New Zealand and is the winner of New Zealand’s Commercial Project Awards in the national category of heritage and restoration. 3 days before Rose Chapel’s 100th birthday, the building was damaged by the earthquake, its namesake, the stunning rose window, shattered. The restoration project was carried out over 2 years and with the help of, from reinstating fallen masonry to repairing the stained glass windows. They also managed to restore and relocate the Regent’s staircase, giving the Rose Chapel even more character and history than before upon its reopening. As a venue, the Rose Chapel allows for exclusive hire for several events, be it a wedding, performance or meeting.
Old Stone House
Image by Christchurch City Council
Established in the 1870s, Old Stone House is at the foot of the Cashmere Hills and is one of Christchurch’s landmark venues. Following the earthquake, the building underwent a 15-month long restoration process, costing an estimated $2 million. Renovations included a series of concrete beams in the walls, a steel structure beneath the slate roof, a steel core within the chimney and the replacement of stone lintels. Most importantly, most of the repairs and strengthening of the building was done whilst keeping the integrity of the building intact; for the most part, Old Stone House looks exactly as it did before the earthquake. The focus was primarily on strengthening the interior whilst leaving the exterior appearance untouched. For their rebuilding efforts, the Old Stone House won gold at New Zealand’s Commercial Project Awards. As a venue, this Christchurch space can accommodate up to 100 guests and is a favourite amongst tourists and locals alike for events, with committed staff on hand and a gorgeous reserve surrounding the property.