Articles | Events

Open Christchurch 2022

Thursday, 16 June 2022

Christchurch festival celebrating architectural excellence attracts thousands to city’s hidden gems and special spaces.


Open Christchurch, the annual festival of architectural excellence, welcomed thousands of visitors over the course of its weekend-long programme and once more demonstrated the public’s genuine desire to discover some of the city’s hidden gems and best-designed spaces. 

On 30 April and 1 May, festival attendees took up the opportunity to access buildings or parts of buildings not normally available to the public, and to explore Ōtautahi’s special spaces. 

From over 900 members of the public who turned up to gain insight into life on the inside at a Victorian Gothic Revival gaol, to those who participated in a guided walk with Te Marino Lenihan (Kati Mamoe + Ngāi Tahu) looking at Ngāi Tahu natural and cultural heritage values in Te Ara Pū Ha’s laneways, people were out in force discovering their city through architecture.

A range of building styles, ages, and uses were on offer. Mid-century Christchurch Modern buildings proved popular with the public, as did the Bull O’Sullivan design, Te Hohepa Kōhanga Reo. Visitors of all ages loved the colourful, inspiring, and culturally rich environment that it provides young children, with some little people testing out the built-in, small-scale furniture and play equipment.  

Wood’s Mill, a Victorian industrial gem, in Addington was another firm favourite, with well over 600 visits on Sunday alone, while behind-the-fences tours of the Christ Church Cathedral booked out within 20 minutes of the bookings opening. Members of the public appreciated the predominantly walk-up nature of the open buildings, where people could just turn up on the day.

Te Pūtahi - Centre for Architecture & City-Making, the organisation behind Open Christchurch, has been delighted with the public’s response.

Director Jessica Halliday says, “it was such a privilege to be able to hold a festival at this time. The fact that people so eagerly embraced the opportunity to get out and experience some exceptional works of architecture has been wonderful to see. We’re very grateful that all our collaborators, those who have been happy to share these special buildings with people, stayed the course through the uncertainties and challenges of the last few months. Christchurch has a lot to offer, and it’s so exciting that people want to celebrate the city’s special buildings and well-designed landscapes and public spaces.” 

For Winstone Wallboards Partnership Manager Clara Sumner it’s hard to go past the Red House – “an outstanding blend of old and new” – and one of the city’s most gracious and beautifully crafted buildings. Winstone Wallboards has been a long-standing supporter of the Open Christchurch event, and Clara says they’re thrilled to play their part in bringing people – and joy – back into the city.

“The festival provides a great opportunity to celebrate the post-earthquake rejuvenation of our city,” says Clara. “As a local manufacturer and building industry supplier, we’ve contributed to many of the architectural gems in the festival line-up and it’s great to see so many Cantabrians keen to explore them. As always, working with Te Pūtahi to help support and tell the story of Christchurch is a real honour.”

Feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Open Christchurch will be back next year on 6 and 7 May for another weekend-long festival showcasing some of Ōtautahi’s best architecture.

Te Pūtahi wishes to thank all the building partners for generously opening up their buildings to the public, all the experts for sharing their knowledge at talks and on tours, the volunteers for donating their time and energy to the smooth running of the festival and the public for turning out in droves to support and participate in this unique celebration of Christchurch's architecture.


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The original article was provided by Te Putahi.