Recommended Sponsor - Buy Original Artwork Directly from the Artist

Source: University of Canterbury

14 April 2022

Keen to visit old hangouts or discover new spaces? Explore the unique nooks and crannies of a modern university, plus parts of its original city campus, as the 149-year-old University of Canterbury (UC) opens its architecturally designed doors for Open Christchurch 2022.

You’re invited to tour four of the University of Canterbury’s distinctive buildings on its Ilam campus on Sunday 1 May, during Open Christchurch’s live architectural weekend in Ōtautahi.

Join a celebration of our architecture on the Ilam Campus to discover and explore high-tech John Britten, brutalist Forestry, colourful revolutionary Rehua, and soaring enduring Puaka-James Hight (Central Library).

The 2022 Open Christchurch architectural festival includes the University’s original campus, purpose-built in Gothic Revival style for Canterbury College from 1873, now home to the Arts Centre, on Worcester Blvd. This heritage site is opening the Great Hall, the rebuilt Observatory, and Physics & Biology buildings for the festival weekend.

Run by Te Pūtahi Centre for Architecture and City Making, Open Christchurch celebrates Christchurch’s most exceptional architecture by opening over 40 buildings to the public for free on 30 April & 1 May. Check out which other buildings are opening their doors in our city here:

2022 Open Christchurch Ilam campus buildings:

PUAKA-JAMES HIGHT (CENTRAL LIBRARY), University Drive, central Ilam Campus
SUNDAY, 11am–2pm
ARCHITECT: Ministry of Works, 1969-74

Puaka-James Hight was Aotearoa New Zealand’s largest university building when it opened in 1974. Designed by the Ministry of Works and originally constructed by CS Luney Ltd, the building, with its striped exposed concrete façade and internal floating stairs, is an important example of Brutalist architecture.

This 53-metre-tall beacon of higher education can be seen from many parts of the city, signalling its commitment to knowledge and modernism far and wide. The form fits the function in this imposing structure of confronting and exposed concrete, as seen in its legibility, interior flow, and the longevity of its use.

In 2022 the building still functions as the heart of the University of Canterbury campus, housing the University’s Central Library | Te Puna Mātauraka o Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha, Te Pātaka (UC’s student services hub), and the Undercroft which has eateries, a pharmacy, and other services.

This tower on a podium rewards closer inspection: don’t miss the strong sculptural elements, such as stairs dramatically floating over water or the oversized exterior balustrades.

Puaka-James Hight will be open to the public. Head to Level 2 to see the exhibition of photographs and archival material from the University’s Macmillan Brown Library. Then take a self-guided tour with a helpful information sheet.

FORESTRY, Forestry Rd, central Ilam Campus
SUNDAY, 11am–2pm
ARCHITECT: Hall & Mackenzie, 1970

This is one of the earliest Brutalist structures on campus, a collection of buildings that was originally meant to communicate an ‘ordered casualness’. The Forestry buildings demonstrate Modernist concerns for materiality. Great care was taken with the finishing of the textured concrete exterior, while the timber linings inside are thoughtful and appropriate to the building’s use. Enjoy lovely views into lush, planted courtyards – a vibrant contrast to the greys of the Forestry building’s exterior. Self-guided tour information available.

REHUA, Forestry Rd and Arts Rd corner, central Ilam Campus
SUNDAY, 11am–2pm
ARCHITECT: Athfield Architects, 1996 & 2019

A generous building in its design, spaces, finishings and artworks, Rehua is a landmark building in contemporary educational architecture. The light-filled atrium draws you inwards while poutama-patterned plywood and other integrated artworks speak to a sense of place. Warm terracotta panels encase the building, which was stripped back to its frame post-quake. Inside, informal collaborative and flexible spaces cater to the cross disciplinary activities of today’s students. A hub at the heart of the Ilam campus.
In Rehua 108 there will be a community-building activity, along with displays of Bachelor of Youth and Community Leadership student work, led by Associate Professor Billy O’Steen. On level 4, the Maker Space will be open with demonstrations, along with displays from the MBA Programme and Summer Start-Up Showcase.

FREE ARCHITECT’S TOUR: Take a walk through this landmark contemporary educational building with architect Maria Chen. Join her architecture tour of Rehua on Sunday at 11am or 12pm. Learn about its journey from stripped-back frame post-quake to the generous, flexible space that it is today, complete with poutama-patterned plywood and other integrated artworks that speak to a sense of place. Bookings essential for tour.

JOHN BRITTEN, 69 Creyke Rd, central Ilam Campus
SUNDAY, 11am–2pm
ARCHITECT: Warren & Mahoney, 2009

The solid, dramatic form of the John Britten building, with its glistening glass skin, seems to hover above the ground, signalling the cutting-edge work that goes on within, making ideas from the lab industry ready. The cantilevered upper floor comprises collaborative workspaces, while the much smaller arrival area on the lower floor is for public displays. The overall structure is ready for future adaptation, while the layout and shape optimise daylight and ventilation. The first education building in the country to be awarded a 5-star green rating.

Visit Level 2 to explore current HIT Lab NZ projects, with HIT Lab NZ Director Professor Rob Lindeman and Applied Immersive Gaming Initiative lead Associate Professor Heide Lukosch on site to answer questions. Self-guided tour information will be available.

UC Ilam campus info: Publicly accessible restrooms, Wheelchair/Walking Aid/Pram accessible, child friendly. Parking available on site; accessible parking; service animals allowed. Masks to be worn.

Open CHCH 2022 videos

Media contact:

  • Email: Ph: (03) 369 3631 or 027 503 0168