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Urban Scapes

Cityscape explores the central city’s public space regeneration and changing urban form with Canopy Landscape Architects’ Gabe Ross and Paul Roper-Gee.

One of the key features of the ‘Blueprint’ for the CBD rebuild was the proposed framework of new public urban spaces – a network of laneways, courtyards and a greater focus on the Avon River/Ōtākaro as Christchurch’s waterfront. Five years on we are starting to see these spaces completed, with more currently under construction and expected to open in the coming months. The full rebuild of our city is going to be a ‘long game’, but we can steadily see the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle starting to form the complete picture. When you look at great cities around the world, the quality of their public spaces is a key component of their success. An authentic, attractive and people friendly ‘public realm’ attracts more visitors, which in turn attracts business and private investment.

At the moment we still see plenty of vacant land in Christchurch’s CBD; however, the new and upcoming urban spaces will serve as a catalyst for additional economic activity that will support a successful downtown. Some of our new pieces in the urban landscape puzzle include:

The Terraces, part of the Avon River Precinct, is an ongoing project combining improvements in the river’s ecology with high quality paving, seating and artwork. New sustainable design features such as rain gardens are integrated into the streetscape stormwater design, while theatrical lighting design contributes to a safe, engaging space at night. This popular spot will only get better when Antony Gough’s new hospitality strip opens up later this summer.

Pieces of the Blueprint’s South Frame are now complete, including the recently opened Mollett Street Greenway and Vanguard Square, which is tucked in between Dux Central and the Vodafone InnoV8 building. These spaces incorporate exciting planting, art, sculpture and custom lighting to create a series of gathering spaces for urban dwellers. New and old stories are being expressed through design elements, reflecting the broader story of Ōtautahi/Christchurch, including mana whenua and European settler narratives.

CANOPY Vanguard Square Jason Mann Photography Jasmax and walkspace1

The Margaret Mahy Family Playground, a firm favourite for all ages, is richly-detailed with a great variety of play features. The playground delights children and adults who visit from sun up to sundown – and on into the evening.


Private developments including the BNZ Centre, The Crossing and the King Edward Barracks site feature laneways and internal plazas sheltered from the wind. These provide a diverse range of pedestrian-friendly places and spaces to explore, shop and socialise.

CANOPY BNZ Centre Jason Mann Photography Sheppard Rout2

Upcoming projects to look forward to include the East Frame Linear Park, more of the Avon River Precinct, a rejuvenated Victoria Square and new concepts for Cathedral Square, and many exciting private developments. The budding central city landscape is set to make Christchurch known not just as the Garden City, but also for its rich tapestry of urban places and spaces to live, work, move and socialise.

Images: Jason Mann Photography ( Top and middle: Vanguard Square, Jasmax and walkspace; above: BNZ Centre, Sheppard & Rout

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