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Opportunities for UK architects in Christchurch rebuild

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A senior figure involved in the rebuild of Christchurch has spoken of the opportunities for UK architects as the value of consented buildings through the programme hit £520 million

BDP director of architecture Martin Sutcliffe told the AJ that local practices did not have the capacity or the expertise to handle the huge backlog of design work on their own.

Christchurch, on New Zealand’s South Island, was badly damaged by an earthquake in February 2011 and several powerful aftershocks since.

The rebuild, split into districts by the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority, passed the NZ$1bn mark in May.

In May (see AJ 30.05.2013) a wave of international design contests was announced, overseen by Bath-based architect Piers Taylor of Invisible Studio, for 25 ‘exemplar’ buildings in and around the city centre.

BDP is working with local firm Opus Architecture on design proposals for the city’s Avon River Precinct and so-called East Frame.

Sutcliffe said: ‘A blueprint for restoration of the city centre was published last year and is being implemented in a series of civic building projects and precincts.

‘Local architects have limited capacity and their expertise does not cover all the civic building types that need to be rebuilt to current international standards.’

He said few UK architects were active in New Zealand despite the work on offer in Christchurch.

‘Many Australian and some US Architects are seeking work there,’ he said. ‘It is essential to collaborate with a local practice.’

A total of 221 buildings worth NZ$55.4m were consented in May, taking the total through the rebuild programme to NZ$1.02bn.

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