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18841 Views 152 Replies 17 Participants Last post by  Davee
Two days ago - my heart jumped for joy when I heard the news of this "Major Life Giving" boost for the Christchurch's inner city.

Thanks to frew (welcome by the way) for posting and pointing this out in the CHC News section.
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Our new member 'frew' originally postes this...

A national stage for music at University of Canterbury's original home
11 June 2009

The University of Canterbury could be returning to its original home in central Christchurch and establishing a National Conservatorium of Music in a new purpose-built facility at the Christchurch Arts Centre.

The Christchurch City Council has agreed to investigate the feasibility of building the new conservatorium on the Arts Centre’s Hereford Street car park site and entering a long-term rental agreement with the University.

It has been designed by Sir Miles Warren and Warren & Mahoney in a style that complements existing buildings, none of which would be impacted by the new structure.

The University would be responsible for fitting-out the new building. It would pay construction costs through lease payments and fund the running of the music programme.

A watercolour image of the proposed University of Canterbury National Conservatorium of Music at the Christchurch Arts Centre.

The conservatorium would be occupied by staff and students from the University’s School of Music, and be a national leader in music performance and education.

Vice-Chancellor Dr Rod Carr describes the University’s proposal as an investment in education, economic development and cultural enrichment.

“While this would see the University’s music programme back where it all started in 1891, we are motivated by more than just sentiment. Having our staff and students working, studying and performing in the centre of town would add to its vibrancy, attract more visitors and provide significant spin-offs for businesses in the inner city.”

UC’s School of Music has been in need of new facilities for a number of years. The University believes its ability to keep attracting high quality staff and students will be limited if new facilities are not developed.

“Our preference is for these facilities to be in the inner city at the Arts Centre given it is the original site of the University and the centre of Christchurch’s cultural life. The Council, which wants to revitalise the central city, supports our initiative and is willing to do what it can to make that happen,” Dr Carr says.

The University of Canterbury occupied the Arts Centre site from 1873 until 1974. The site was leased to the Arts Centre of Christchurch Society in 1976 and subsequently gifted to the Arts Centre Trust.

The University has been working on the development of the conservatorium proposal with the Arts Centre Trust Board. Given the scale and long-term nature of the project it has also entered discussions with the Christchurch City Council.

Christchurch mayor Bob Parker says the Council is considering how it could assist.

“Given our commitment to revitalising the central city this proposal could certainly have merit. For a long time I’ve been talking about the benefits of the University having a presence again in the inner city. The University is showing foresight with this proposal,” Mr Parker says.

Under the proposal the Council would lease the land from the Arts Centre Trust Board and construct the building, leasing it back to the University under a long term rental agreement. The Council has been briefed on the proposal this week (June 8), with a report likely to come before the Council next month. Mr Parker says nothing will happen without agreement from the Arts Centre Trust Board.

More details about the proposal and its background can be found at:

There's alot more stuff on that website, lots of pictures and why they want to move.
This is great news...
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I have always dreamed of a Christchurch Conservatorium but never the ambitious plan to house the National Conservatorium in CHC.

This is a gift horse for CHC on many different regional, national and international levels :banana::banana::banana:


I'm waiting for the Bev Butler nimby's to come out of their dark hobbit holes and try and scarpper the plans!! I just know the "historic" set and anti arts mob are going to kick up a stink on this.
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The University occupied the Arts Centre site for its first 100 years from 1873 to 1974, progressively building a campus in a gothic revival style. The site was provided for the University by the Canterbury Provincial Government. This was part of its commitment to fulfilling the central vision of the Canterbury Association for a cross section of Anglican society to be established in Christchurch with a cathedral and a University College at its centre in the style of Christ Church, Oxford.

Construction of a new building on the Ilam campus was contemplated, plans developed and a site identified and initial ground work undertaken in the 1990s before a financial downturn saw the project put on hold.

The dire needs of the School in terms of quality facilities has been long recognised and recent ad hoc refurbishment of poorly located domestic dwellings has done nothing to address the core issue of inadequate facilities for the School. It was intended that the Ilam campus site project would be revived when the University’s financial situation permitted but in 2007 the University became aware of the possibility of space on the Arts Centre site.
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Designed by Sir Miles Warren & Co............

Sir Miles Warren’s concept for the building on the current Hereford St car-park site and the creation of a third quadrangle of the Arts Centre has been embraced by the Arts Centre Trust Board. Sir Miles, in collaboration with the architectural firm Warren & Mahoney, has developed the concept to advanced sketch plan stage incorporating all of the facilities required by the School.

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University's return to city's heart

The Press

Those with a feeling for Christchurch's past, and hopes for its future, will welcome the prospect of the university returning in part to its old site. The move would reinvigorate traditional contacts between town and gown and set the stage for a cultural revival, writes The Press in an editorial.

A university was one of the foundation plans of the Canterbury Association when it began to think about its colony. The group's leading members were university men who believed in higher education as fundamentally important in the civilisation they hoped to transport half way around the world.

The foundation of Canterbury College came within the lifetime of many of the pioneers and it fulfilled their dream. As the decades came and went, the college's reputation grew, as did its functions and roll. Thousands of its graduates played leading or worthy parts in New Zealand's development, and some gained international reputations.

But for Christchurch people the importance of the institution was more organic. Canterbury College and eventually the University of Canterbury was an important part of the city's life. Its buildings were splendid, a unique expression of the Gothic Revival; its students peopled the streets and its staff enriched cultural life.

Dunedin, with its university in the city centre, still enjoys those benefits, as does Wellington to some extent. But Christchurch largely lost the connection when the university moved to Ilam.

From the mid-1970s all departments had gone. With them went part of the character of central Christchurch as students moved accommodation to the north-west suburbs and the public's easy access to lectures and staff ended.

Hindsight suggests the university should have kept the town site as an adjunct to its main operation. But, at the time, the attractions of a united and spacious campus were compelling. Largely they still are, but the university and the city can now see the move produced losses for them both.

Christchurch was no longer a university city; it became a city with a university. The university lost its position as one of the two or three defining institutions of Christchurch, and with that went the intimate connection with the community's heart.

The return of the School of Music to the old site, proposed this week, would not restore those losses but it would lessen them. Larger numbers of students would call the central city home, with associated benefits for retailers and accommodation, and they would be a stimulating community.

Citizens and tourists would have easier access to the concerts that are one of the school's most valuable activities, and its teachers would inform life in the city more seamlessly.

Benefits would be increased if the school's attempt to transform itself into the National Conservatorium are successful. The name suggests New Zealand's premier school of music a status that would attract talent but which would be contested.

Ad Feedback Perhaps most important, the re-siting of the school would set a precedent, which if successful could encourage more of the university's work to be done within the four avenues. But for that to happen the university has to find a combined beat with Christchurch power-brokers. In this instance, the heritage lobby will have to be satisfied that the Arts Centre's fabric in a specific and general sense will not be shattered.

Heritage advocates are concerned that the construction of new buildings close to the old would damage the Arts Centre's structure. But engineers can surely ensure no damage is done. In the process, the old buildings might get what they need strengthening to ensure their survival in a severe earthquake.

More tendentious will be the look of the new structure. It is close to Christchurch's most cherished precinct, which leaves ample opportunity for controversy. However, a reasonable person at first glance will find little to criticise in Sir Miles Warren's designs. They might not be inspired, but they do not jar when placed against the Gothic Revival surroundings.

The critics should be given a hearing but not be allowed to stymie this proposal. Its benefits are too great to be frittered away in a prolonged squabble.
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Average.... In bold & caps..

They're obviously trying to blend in to the gothic style that suits the surrounding buildings, like many others... sorryy Dave that is a completely shite piece of work, regardless of what it houses. Hope it never gets built.

This is one project I wont be doing construction update photos on.
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The great hall of the art centre is currently used by the UC school of music as its main performance venue, if this thing gets built, the students of the school of music can enjoy the benefit of their class and concerts being very close together.
I'm seriously considering studying music in UC if the does get built, the current school of music is a joke.
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Im all for it and what it will add to the central city BUT.......

I dont think it looks all that great. Any addition to the Arts Centre would have to be built to mirror what is already there- regardless of the cost. Just look at the extension that houses the FPA to see how doing it by halves looks so terrible.

Even though this tries to stay in character it doesnt work for me. Everything on that block should be of a certain standard, if its not then buy a couple of thise delapidated student flats within earshot across the road and put it there.
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Don't like it, i think something of more contrast would suit?
I think the building needs to be built to blend in properly - that would mean building it in the gothic revival style. The proposed building I don't think looks particularly nice at all.

Look around the city elsewhere and you'll find other examples of poor design... For example the auditorium buidling at Christs College (on the right just in the gate). Built in the 1960's or 1970's I think, it was built to 'semi-blend-in' with the old school buildings, and yet have a (for its time) modern look.

People back then probably thought 'wow' what a cool building - but now look how shite and inappropriate it looks compared to it's surroundings?

The newer theatre building next to the school auditorium looks nice despite being built last decade, as does the admin building just in the gate on the left which was added to the dining hall building and therefore looks at though it was always there.

The Cathedral Visitors centre building is also another building - The Cathedral weren't allowed to build a true building that blended in to the cathedral, but had to build something that blended in, but was obviously not part of the original cathedral. Again, when it first opened it looked reasonable, but now is starting to look tacky.

The Canterbury Museum was about to have a 'modern' box added to it (albeit in the middle where it was less visible), but again, the project got shot down because it still 'interferred' with the original style and design and look of the whole building.

It is about time architects learnt from the mistakes - Chch has lost many many old buildings already - Let's not wreck the image of what is left by blotting it with modern pieces of junk.
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^^I agree.

The most important thing is this project goes ahead - it will do wonders for the area and central city.

The second thing is that it must be a building of excellence. If you read the articles above - they are ideas on paper - I think they will go back to the board again and come up with something quiet amazing be it a radical and revolutionary design that would blow people away (and I'm all for that) or to build in the true Gothic Revival Style to complete and complament the Arts Centre (I also like that idea - be it a conservative one).

Most importantly again - the National Conservatorium must be built! It's spin offs are way to important to pass off to another place.
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When I first saw this project I thought it was the best thing for central Christchurch for ages. But the more you think about it, the more you realize that all of the advantages of this are to do with the uni moving to the central city, rather than to do with being in the arts center. There are plenty of run down sites in town which the uni can 'revitalise'. So I don't get why this project has to be done in the arts center. No matter how good the architects are, there will always be a risk it will ruin the arts center.

If I was the uni, I would build it in the council carpark opposite Christ's College on Rollestion Ave. It would be close the arts center (and the museum), and would compliment Worcester Boulevard. The Council seem keen to help this along, and get rid of car parks in town. Plus it will be easier to get resource consent and cheaper to build. If they were smart, they would get Christ's College to pay for half the cost and then share the facilities.

If they did a good job on the building design it would compliment the whole area, and create a sort of flow between the museum, the UC music school, the art gallery and the square. And if they did a bad job, they can plant a few trees in front of it and it would still be better than a carpark.
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^^ Good point - The CCC carpark across the road from Christs College is a good place for it... certainly it should be near to the city's other 'arty' places.
^^ Not a bad spot for it. But obviously they have some stakes on this site, and well, the building still looks like a piece of shit in a museum....!
I'm all for any location near or in the art centre. A Conservatorium is just such a wonderful addition to all the arty things that have taken place in this part of town.

As I have said - the most important thing is that this project takes place - the profile, national and international spins offs are just to big to ignore. Arguing where it can go and what the design will be is secondary at present -the city must embrace this project with passion.

I believe it will be more than just a university thing - yes the University of Canterbury will validate and award the degrees offered - but as the National Conservatorium of Music it will hold a unique position and institution for the Nation and Australasia.
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How long do you guys think the preparation time will take, that is, the time required for the proposal to get started. Because i really need to know, if it's gonna take less than a year I will enrol in it, but if longer than that, I will continue with my current degree which I dont really like....
The Press

A home in Christchurch's Arts Centre is the only inner-city site Canterbury University will consider for a new music school, a public meeting has been told.

The university hopes to return to its original base with a custom-built National Conservatorium of Music.

A deal is being negotiated with the Christchurch City Council and the Arts Centre Trust. The Arts Centre would lease the car-park site to the council, which would borrow money to build the music centre, and the university would sign a long-term lease.

University vice-chancellor Rod Carr told a public meeting yesterday that the only alternative was a facility at the university's Ilam campus, but it would struggle to attract audiences.

"It's lovely to think that having the school of music on our campus would provide vitality and vibrancy to undergraduate life, but they don't attend the existing offerings on campus," he said.

"I wish that it were different, but the assumption that it would change is unreal."

Music school staff and students supported the proposed move, he said.

People who spoke at the meeting many from the arts community had mixed views on the proposal.

Opponents believed the building design was too contemporary and bulky for the historic precinct.

Velda Lomax, a former Arts Centre stall-holder, supported the idea but felt the building would dominate.

"The Court Theatre is fantastic and it works because of the setting it is in. That [music school] is a modern building," she said.

Malcolm Douglas said the Arts Centre had been an "oustanding success". "I see the Arts Centre as a very public place with a lot of terrific attractions for the people of Christchurch as a whole, and I don't believe it can have a chunk cut out of it for a tertiary education [provider]," he said.

Architect Peter Marshall, of Warren and Mahoney, said the building was designed for the present. "We've turned to the Historic Places Trust and they made it very clear that when one is dealing with a building in this context, you build for today. You do not try to replicate or mimic what happened in the past," he said.

Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper said it was a "grand development". "Whenever I return from being away I feel like the centre of Christchurch is pretty empty. I think anything that helps bring life into it, and student life in particular, is very welcome," she said.
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The Press

Arts Centre bar owner starts online petition

A bar owner who opposes plans for a music school at Christchurch's Art Centre has started an online petition.

Richard Sinke, of the Dux de Lux, is resisting Canterbury University plans for a National Conservatorium of Music on land next to the bar's courtyard.

A deal for a custom-built facility is being negotiated with the Christchurch City Council and the Arts Centre Trust. The Arts Centre would lease the car-park site to the council, which would borrow money to build the music centre, and the university would sign a long-term lease.

Sinke said he opposed the scale and bulk of the development and objected to the council's role in funding a university facility. The petition has more than 100 signatures since being launched last Friday.

The Arts Centre had "become very much a public space. We've all taken it to our hearts," Sinke said.
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The Press

Music building 'too big'

A bar owner has joined opposition to a planned $14 million music centre on the neighbouring Christchurch Arts Centre car park.

Dux de Lux owner Richard Sinke has joined former Arts Centre director Christopher Doig in raising concerns over the scale of the proposed National Conservatorium of Music.

Canterbury University is negotiating with the Christchurch City Council and the Arts Centre Trust over a deal to build a music centre on the site.

The Arts Centre would lease the site to the council, which would borrow money to build the centre. The university would then sign a long-term lease that would cover the council's borrowing and lease expenses, ensuring there is no cost to ratepayers.

Sinke said the proposed building was too large. "It is a huge building and I just do not know if it is right for that site," he said.

He said the building could overshadow the Dux de Lux and create wind problems.

Doig, Southern Opera's executive chairman, has raised concerns about the "massive structure" and its impact on neighbouring businesses.

Arts Centre director Ken Franklin said the trust board unanimously supported the scheme.

He said debate on the project should be saved for the planning process. The proposal would be publicly notified, so everybody could submit their views.

"The resource consent process is a great opportunity to allow people to express their views and gain a better understanding of the project," he said.
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