The design of the new Christchurch Botanic Gardens Centre is in the spirit of classic garden architecture, strategically sited to complement existing pathways within the garden. As a base for botanic science and research, the building is designed to communicate and educate the visitor in the beauty, variety and complexity of the plant world.
The brief was complex with the entire long-term wish list for the gardens gathered together into one project. A diversity of uses was identified, which included the shade houses and tractor and fertiliser sheds and the café. Christchurch Botanic Gardens is unusual in that it isn’t a walled garden, instead it’s permeable all the way around, pierced by bridges. The design included new access ways to complete the pathway system and open up a large section of the adjacent riverbank for public access.
The Visitors’ Centre is experienced as a series of airy, leafy thresholds, which includes public spaces – the shop and café – which look into the semi-public spaces of the library, function room, meeting room, an exhibition area and a large greenhouse and shade house. The public spaces are enhanced by sculptural panels on the walls and ceiling that filter light like the dappled shade of a woodland.
The building looks like a giant contemporary greenhouse. The saw tooth roof, is actually a traditional industrial greenhouse design.
NZIA New Zealand Architecture Award 2015
NZIA John Scott Award for Public Architecture, 2015
NZIA Canterbury Architecture Award, 2015
Interior Award for Civic Interior Architecture, 2015
Christchurch City Council Open Architecture Competition, Winner, 2009
Jeremy Toth and Simon Devitt