This impressive stately building with its classical ornamentation is located right behind Christchurch Cathedral, and opposite the Press buidling and Cathedral Junction. It was designed in 1909 (and built from 1911 to 1913) to accommodate many of the Government Departments in Christchurch. It was used for this purpose for 70 years. Although it became too crammed and had to be given up for several years, its exterior now looks beautiful and impressive again.
It is part of an important precint of historic buildings which includes the Anglican Cathedral, Warners Hotel, the Press Building, State Insurance Building and State Trinity Centre, and is run as a hotel (The Heritage) since about a decade.
The style of the building, designed by architect Thomas Clarkson Maddison, is that of an Italian High Renaissance palazzo. There is a portico over the entrance at the west front.
The builders were J and W Jamieson who also built the Roman Catholic Church and the Press Building opposite the Government Building.
The foundation stone (of Coromandel granite) was laid on 20 Nov 1911, work was completed in March 1913, and the building occupied by the end of July of the same year.
The building is 79.25 m long and 19.8 m in average width and height. It consists of a basement plus three floors. The gross floor area is 6280 square metres but the occupied nett floor area is only 2996 square metres, mostly due to endless corridors and service areas.
The biggest problem of the building is that it is not earthquake-safe, and it has suffered quite a lot of cracks from such hazards. Strengthening works have been carried out. For example, brick columns have been replaced by steel columns. But from 1980 the second floor was not occupied anymore. It was feared the building could collapse. In 1989 the last tenants vacated the building.
In 1991 a demolition notice was issued but the people of Christchurch, the Historic Places Trust and the City Council rallied to save the building. This ended with sending a petition to the Government, and finally the City Council purchased the building. In 1995 it was sold to a developer who undertook major structural upgrades and strengthening and converted the building into 54 apartments, the so called Christchurch Randalf Apartments. Everything you need for luxury living was added on the ground floor and in the basement: boutiques, a restaurant, a swimming pool, spa, sauna, and gym. Now the complex is run as The Heritage Hotel.
Fondest memory: -
Detailed info on
Just walk around the Cathedral, the building is on the right side of Worcester Street, opposite the Press building.
Favorite thing: As with most cities there are a number of icons, murals and sculptures hidden in and around Christchurch. All through Hagley Park and the Botanic gardens there are a large number of iconic sculptures and bits of iron and marble worked into fancy shapes. In the middle of town there is everything from carvings within the Bridge of Remembrance to a sculpture outside the Central Fire station in memory of the help the Christchurch Fire boys did to help after the 11 September mess in New York, USA.
The original Christchurch Girls' High School was opened on 13 Sept. 1877 and originally occupied a building on the corner of Hereford Street and Rolleston Avenue. In 1878 plans were submitted for a new building in Cranmer Square and in late 1881 the new building was opened. Extensions were made along Armagh Street and along Montreal Street over a period of 40 or so years. The school is the second oldest girls’ secondary school in New Zealand.
Girls' High moved to a new site in Deans Avenue, Riccarton, in mid 1986, with the official opening on 10 Nov. 1986. The Cranmer Square building, which you see if ther photo, was bought by the Arts Centre in July 2001. The first building in Hereford Street became the School of Art until it moved to Ilam in 1957. It was then used as an extension to the University Library until the whole University moved to Ilam, when it became part of the Arts Centre of Christchurch.
Sometimes you just cannot believe how the City Council is wasting ratepayers’ money. You get the impression they are spending days and hours thinking for which silly purpose they could spend hundreds of thousands of dollars, just for the sake of changing something and making something new.
I have given up to understand the purpose of inner city planning, as they demolish historic buildings, and renew other things that are perfectly fine. What I find offending, however, is that they lie to the public in the attempt to justify the latest craziness. They tell the people of Christchurch that the overseas trend in city centres is to get the traffic back into the centre and reduce the area of pedestrian zones. The opposite is the case as we got confirmed on our last trip to Germany. What, I wonder, is overseas? Is Germany not overseas in the eyes of Christchurch City’s Councillors?
The story behind my anger is that they have made City Mall and Cashel Mall worse. Some business owners have not tired to tell us that it is necessary to get car traffic back into the pedestrian zone because people want to park right in front of the shops, and only by such mixed use of the streets people would come back to the city centre for their shopping and not go to the big malls in the outer suburbs where parking is free and convenient.
So they have started their work of destruction. Stage one has been finished around Christmas 2007, and the result is horrible. The pedestrian part of High Street – a diagonal road starting at the corner of Colombo and Hereford Streets – has just got the new grey-in-grey look. At the start there is a one-lane service road – but as this is only for a possible future use – it is blocked by two planter boxes.
Fondest memory: -
Some stainless steel benches invite the people to sit down. They are at the site of a former colourful tiled fountain, a real big piece of art, the tiles designed by children of Christchurch. The edges of the fountain served as seats, and in summer you could see many people sit around it and chat. Well, as the New Zealand Natural ice-cream shop right at this corner is just going to be replaced by a St. Pierre sushi shop we do not need such an nice, inviting and relaxing place to sit down anymore… ;-) Just dreadful!
The second masterpiece of planning was to demolish a pedestrian overbridge over High Street. By using this you could walk to the Bus Exchange in heavy rain without the need to step out into the rain. The second overbridge, linking the two sides of Cashel Street, is still standing but will also be demolished in the next stage of the so-called revival process of the inner city. Right now, there are many hanging baskets attached to this overbridge, and the plants give the place a lively feeling, and people are sitting on the seats under the pillar of the overbridge. But sure, a service lane is much more important in the middle of a pedestrian mall than nice seats and flowers.
And really, who would want to walk leisurely through Cashel Mall if the nightmare becomes true and cars are driving there in circles on the search of parking spaces? I wonder if they will even fell the nice trees in the second half of Cashel Mall, between Colombo Street and Oxford Terrace… Right now, this part of the mall is home to many buskers during the World Buskers Festival in January. What a piece of ignorance!
I for my part will boycott the shops which have actively supported the construction of the service lane.
Favorite thing: The Art Centre, which was once the University of Canterbury, is a wonderful place to savour the architectural heritage of Christchurch. I think the correct term for the style of architecture here is Gothic Revival. The archways and green lawns of the intimate quads are beautiful. If you are walking down Worcester Ave, just wander into the Art Centre and have a look around. Even if you don't want to look in the little arts and crafts shops that fill the buildings now, the architecture is worthy of a visit.
Favorite thing: Once upon a time New Zealand had a federal system of government. The Canterbury Provincial Council Buildings, dating from 1858 are the only remaining original provincial government buildings in the country. Tourists can get tours of the building up to 3.30pm each weekday. I really wanted to go into these buildings when I was in Christchurch, but I just didn't have time! The rear of this complex backs onto the Avon River and some of the stone buildings there are very picturesque.
Favorite thing: The new art gallery between Gloucester and Worcester Streets is an example of pleasing modern architecture in Christchurch. Sadly, most of the commercial buildings in the CBD are a bit of a blot on the landscape, especially considering how buildings could have been designed to fit in with the pre-existing rich heritage buildings of this graceful old city. Luckily, whoever designed the new art gallery, did a good job. This isn't my favourite building in Christchurch, but it is my favourite modern building.
Christchurch is full of architectural gems - small ones admittedly, you won't find any of the "Great Buildings of the World" here, but what you will find is a harmonious collection of mostly Victorian buildings, built from local materials and in sympathy with each other and the community at large. There's lots of grey stone neo-Gothic - the Arts Centre, Cathedral, Provincial Council Buildings, Canterbury Museum, Victoria Street Clock Tower, Christ's College are all good examples, but some attractive red brick can be found too, often finished with white quoins and ornamentation of varying degrees of elaborateness - the old Central Post Office and The Press buildings on Cathedral Square and the former Municipal Chambers by the Worcester Street Bridge are particularly notable.
Smaller in scale but favourites of mine are The Antigua Street Boatsheds, which make a very pretty picture with their striped paintwork and colourful boats nestling under the willows by the river, and the cute llittle (wee in Kiwi-speak) Shands Emporium in Hereford Street - a tiny little green wooden building that has been doing business here since 1860.
Looking up brings rewards too - there are some lovely towers to be seen atop some of the city's buildings, as well as coats of arms and other features.
Good modern buildings are harder to find though the new art Gallery's a stunning addition to the city.
The tram runs down Worchester Boulevard with the Arts Centre an its left and the fine old buildings of the Canterbury Museum at the end of the street. The museum opened in 1870 under the directorship of Dr Julius von Haast, the distinguished explorer who was also the provincial geologist - and whose idea it was to build the museum.
Fondest memory: Daily 9AM-5:30PM summer, 9AM-5PM winter. Includes colonial, Maori and natural history sections, Antarctic exploration display, and visiting exhibitions. Admission free to main exhibits (but donation appreciated), $2 for Discovery children's section
Absolutely nessesary to see that place..... I thing the spirit of the Christchurch lives here :))
When the University of Canterbury shifted to Ilam, local artist moved into the old "townsite" in Worcester Street, now known as the Arts Center. Lecture halls became studios, galleries and craft shops. Market Square houses the popularweekend market which draws many to these fine old Gothic styled duildings.
Fondest memory: Gothic stonework of former University campus converted into complex of over 40 specialty art and craft businesses and performance venues.
Favorite thing: New Regent Street, created in the 1920s, was in complete contrast to the grand Gothic architectural style of Christchurch's earlier buildings. It is alive with cafes and quaint little shops, and a tram that has hardly room to squeeze through . It is one of the city's more intriguing pedestrian malls.
And the other special corner building I noticed, quite close to the end of the Mall in Central Christchurch.
It's a pity we really only had one full day free to wander the streets of Christchurch, as it's really deserving of a lot more attention.
Fondest memory: I remember most fondly the Avon River, the Mollyhawks in Victoria Square, the tram near the Square, and canoeing past the tudor building on the Avon (can anybody tell me what that building is?)
Schools in Cristchurch look so nice.
This one is near The botanical gardens.
It's Christ's College - a private secondary school for boys run along English public school lines. Since 1857 this college has been the training ground for many of Canterbury's "sons of the land", but today its pupils are from varying walks of life. The college's magnificent buildings on Rolleston Avenue include some of Christchurch's oldest and finest architecture.
I have head that Cristchurch is a mostly English New Zealand town.... Its architecture is interesting very mush for me.
It's the Sigh og the Takahe, one of a chain of rest houses planned by Harry Ell forhis Summit Road walkway.
Christchurch Anglican Cathedral situated in Cathedral Square. It is possible to go inside this Gothic Cathedral and climb the spire to get a magnificent view over Christchurch City. The Cathedral's spire rises to a height of 64 m and is visible from most parts of the city.
Fondest memory: I enjoy the wide open spaces and short distances to the seaside or countryside.